Examination Of Trends, Barriers And Enhancement Strategies For Women’s Access To University Education In Nigeria

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Examination Of Trends, Barriers And Enhancement Strategies For Women’s Access To University Education In Nigeria

Chapter One


1.1 Background of the Study

In this competitive global economy, university education is critical in the twenty-first century for a resourceful economy. It is a dynamic tool for preparing an economy’s employable workforce. Individual and societal benefits of university education include the ability to be employed, earn a higher salary, and move up the career ladder. Other advantages include a higher standard of living, better health, and more opportunities in life. With the personal and societal benefits of education in mind, youth access and gender equality are critical to achieving personal goals and social justice. According to UNESCO’s principles, every child should have equal access to education (principle of non-discrimination), regardless of race, gender, or economic or social differences (UNESCO’s homepage). As a result, there is a pressing need to promote educational equity. Why because a female who is denied access to education based on some factors like religion, family background, etc represents a loss of human capital for society. The absence of access to university education and its success contributes to underdeveloped human resources.
The argument that women in traditional Nigerian society are discriminated is much discussed by scholars of history of education in the country. It has been discovered from findings that women contribute immensely to national and international development of a country (Sator, 1992; Ekejiuba, 1991; Okonjo, 1991). The barrier placed on Nigerian women calls for much attention. Yet it is quite obvious that women are more involved than men in most areas of the economy, like in agricultural which was in the 90’s the mainstay of Nigerians (Adeyokunu, 1981). Despite this, women are victims of social order and treated as second class citizens of the country. They are discriminated in the education sector, labour market, and political sphere. This discrimination has led to the increase in poverty, as their rights are suppressed and education deprived which is needed to improve their state of living. A very obvious area where Nigerian women face imbalance is in the education sector. This mismatch in the education sector has provided significant leeway for various types of discrimination amongst them (Afigbo, 1991).

However, numerous research have revealed that socio-economic progress of nations may be considerably achieved by women education and empowerment (Stephen, 1992; Palmer and Almaz, 1991; Caldwell, 1979). Little wonder Rathgeber (2003), in his study emphasized the problem that there is need to incorporate women in social and economic growth. It is because to this that there have been initiatives to boost women education in Nigeria in recent years. A prominent example is the work of informal organizations and Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs), who via their programmes have encouraged female education in the north and south sections of the nation; alongside efforts by the state governments of the north to promote education for women. For instance the development of female schools in different states of the country. Furthermore, the National Universities Commission Annual Reports since 1988 demonstrate a respectable improvement in female education in Nigeria compared to what it was several decades before. Similarly, it is noteworthy that the numbers of girls that are in post-primary education have gotten up to the number of boys in southern Nigeria.

The standing of women in sub-Saharan African universities portrays women’s position in the society. Women in sub-Saharan Africa are underrepresented in education and those of them that force their way to be educated opt for courses that are termed “female courses” like arts, education and social sciences course. On graduation, women are faced with inadequate paying jobs, unemployment and less prospects to grow. Meanwhile, the major purpose of education is to build a powerful labor force of a country. Thus, if Nigerian and African women as a whole are provided access to education, it would widen their abilities and offer them access to new resources; this is an added advantage to the economy (Shaheed, 1995). Globally, it is anticipated that women labour force participation has climbed from 36 percent in 1990 to 40 percent by 1997 (Razavi, 2003). Recent figures reveal that, internationally during the last five decades women’s labour force participation has grown and women today make up over 45 percent of the world’s workforce with more women than ever before engaged in the labour force or actively hunting for jobs (ILO, 2007). But aside the above overall picture country specific data from the ILO and United Nations Population Division (EFA Global Monitoring Report, 2003/04) reveal considerable rise in female labour force participation in such countries as Japan, Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand. However, in other to promote women’s access to university education in Nigeria: trends, impediments and enhancing methods, this study is being carried out.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Over time, gender inequality has always been a global problem and it is still noticeable in the education system of Nigeria. For some obvious reasons in Nigeria, women are not granted access to education because of religion, family background, unstable income, etc. Before now, it was believed that women education ends in the kitchen. Some Nigerian parents still stick to this saying that they cut-off their female children from going to school. They see as waste of resources sending a female child to school, as she will definitely be married off to a man. Another problem associated with this study is the problem of admission. In Nigerian universities, the trend of giving admission is against the females. They are discriminated from studying some courses because of their sex. Therefore is against this backdrop that this study seeks to examination of trends, barriers and enhancement strategies for women’s access to university education in Nigeria.

1.3 Objectives of the Study

The major objective of this study is to examine trends, barriers and enhancement strategies for women’s access to university education in Nigeria.Other specific objectives include:

  1. To investigate the extent at which women have access to education in Nigeria.
  2. To examine factors that poses as barrier to women assess to education.
  3. To discover the consequences of women’s lack of access to education in Nigeria.
  4. To examine how to expand access to women’s university education in Nigeria.

1.4 Research Questions

The following research questions are generated to guide this study:

  1. What is the the extent at which women have access to education in Nigeria?
  2. What are factors that poses as barrier to women assess to education in Nigeria?
  3. What are the consequences of women’s lack of access to education in Nigeria?
  4. What are ways to expand access to women’s university education in Nigeria.

1.5 Significance of the Study

This study is meant to inform, educate, sensitize and enlighten the general public, university administrators, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and government on women and their access to education. It is meant to educate the general public that they should debunk the notion that females should not be granted education. It is a wrong notion and should be dealt with, even as according to UNESCO, everyone has a right to education not minding their race, sex or any distinctions, economic or social status. University administrators have a role to play in giving women access to education. They are supposed to give admissions to students to the desired departments of their choice based on merit and not other factors. Also, NGOs and the government have serious roles to play in promoting women access to education. They need to embark on policies and programmes that will help in achieving this. This study will be of immense benefit to other researchers who intend to know more on this topic and can also be used by non-researchers to build more on their work. This study contributes to knowledge and could serve as a guide for other work or study.

1.6 Scope of the Study / Limitations of the Study

This study is restricted to women and their access to university education in Nigeria: trends, barriers and enhancement strategies.The study will consider factors that leads to women limited access to education and posit solution to enable women education in Nigeria. The study is however delimited to Ministry of Women Affairs in Abakiliki local government in Ebonyi State.

1.7 Limitation of the Study

Like in every human endeavour, the researchers encountered slight constraints while carrying out the study. The significant constraint was the scanty literature on the subject owing that it is a new discourse thus the researcher incurred more financial expenses and much time was required in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature, or information and in the process of data collection, which is why the researcher resorted to a limited choice of sample size covering only Ministry of Women Affairs in Abakiliki local government in Ebonyi State. Thus findings of this study cannot be used for generalization for other ministry in other States within Nigeria. Additionally, the researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work will impede maximum devotion to the research. Howbeit, despite the constraint encountered during the research, all factors were downplayed in other to give the best and make the research successful.

1.9 Definition of Terms


In education, the term access typically refers to the ways in which educational institutions and policies ensure—or at least strive to ensure—that students have equal and equitable opportunities to take full advantage of their education. Increasing access generally requires schools to provide additional services or remove any actual or potential barriers that might prevent some students from equitable participation in certain courses or academic programs. Factors such as race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, perceived intellectual ability, past academic performance, special-education status, English-language ability, and family income or educational-attainment levels—in addition to factors such as relative community affluence, geographical location, or school facilities—may contribute to certain students having less “access” to educational opportunities than other students.


Is an institution of higher (or tertiary) education and research which grants academic degrees in various subjects. Universities typically provide undergraduate education and postgraduate education.


A general direction in which something is developing or changing.


A fence or other obstacle that prevents movement or access.


A change or the process of change, brought about, to improve a product or service and to increase its value, is known as enhancement. A variety of enhancements can be used in business to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of different processes and functionalities.


A plan of action designed to achieve a long-term or overall aim.

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