Female Education In Nigeria; The Key To Development

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Female Education In Nigeria; The Key To Development


This study is focused on female education in Nigeria. It traces the genesis of western education in Nigeria and bias that existed from the traditional Nigerian society against women education. It identified and discussed barriers to women education in Nigeria. Recent trend in enrolment at various levels of education shows improvement in favor of women. In view of this realization, this paper argues that if the current momentum is sustained, women will not only achieve equal status to men in educational attainment but also have the tendency to surpass men within the next ten to fifteen years. The implications could be outreaching as the paper proffers some recommendations.

Chapter One


1.1 Background of the Study

Education is a tool for the sustainable development of any economy (Oyitso & Olomukoro, 2012). In the last two decades, there have been agitations that women should be involved in ensuring the sustainable development of a country. Even as a research conducted shows that about two-third of women are illiterates and just about the same figure goes for females who are out of school. However, for women (females) to contribute towards achieving sustainable development, they must be given quality education.

Fortunately, females make up a greater percentage of Nigeria’s population, therefore in other for them to be involved in the development of the country, they need to be literate (UNESCO, 2002). This brings us to the reality that half of the population of a country (females) is discriminated or illiterates, sustainable development will be hampered. Educating females of a country is one of the ways of investing into the future of that country, tied to a saying that ‘if you train a woman, you have trained the nation’.

Females will actively participate both nationally and internationally in the social, political, and economic development of the country if certain barriers are taken care of (Okojie, 2011). Based on the traditional beliefs of Nigerians, before now females were known to always be in the kitchen, thus discriminating them from participating in other spheres of the economy. Not minding this limitation, women still struggled participating in the economic sphere of the country, engaging more in agricultural activities than the men (Ponte, 2006).

This discrimination meted on the female folk has made them poor thereby depriving them of education, training and health services. A very obvious discrimination against women is the area of education and it is because they do not have access to education. It has been proven that women can achieve socio-economic development of the nation through sound education and empowerment (Adeniran, 2009). It is against this background that in recent times efforts have been made to improve female education in Nigeria. Buttress to say are campaigns carried out by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) south and north parts of Nigeria to promote female education; and to encourage state governments in the north to fund female education. One of the positive effects of this campaign is the establishment of girls’ schools across the country.

Despite all these meaningful measures, female education still lacks behind compared to males’ education. A lot of women have not been well empowered to contribute to national development, they are still traumatized and that is why out of 1.2 billion around the globe living in abject poverty, about 70% are women (Onwubiko, 2012). Poverty for these women does not only mean their basic needs are not met but that their voices are not heard, opportunities denied, and their rights are trampled upon.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) took a step further in one of its goals to reiterate how essential women education is through empowering women. The National Policy on women was adopted in 2000 in Nigeria in other to enhance the involvement of females in the social and political arena of the country, to achieve national development (Olomukoro, 2012).

However, not minding that the Nigerian culture plays a part in discouraging female education, the presence of civilization (formal education) is helping to close the vacuum created, in other to join the workforce of the country.

This study on female education in Nigeria: the key to development is coming on the hills of stressing how important female education is to the sustainable development of Nigeria.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Over twenty decades now, the issue of female education has always been a topical issue both in the national and international scene.

There are certain barriers to this effect, and they include:

Poverty and economic issues:

with the high level of poverty in Nigeria, female children are usually sent to hawk in other to provide the basic needs of the family.

Cultural and religious biases:

Many Nigerian parents are of the notion that it is waste of resources to enroll females in schools and so the males should be enrolled. Also, some Islamic parents misinterpret the tenet of lslam as regards female education.

Early Marriage and Teenage Pregnancy:

Due to the fact that many parents belief education is not for their female children, they give them away in early marriage.

In addition, teenage pregnancy amongst females makes them drop out from school.

These are some of the problems associated with female education in Nigeria.

1.3 Objectives of the Study

The major objective of this study is Female Education in Nigeria: the Key to Development.

Other specific objectives include:

  1. To examine the significant relationship between female education and Nigeria’s GDP.
  2. To identify the challenges of female education in Nigeria.
  3. To suggest ways of improving female education in Nigeria.
  4. To examine how well the media has contributed in promoting female education in Nigeria.
  5. To examine the percentage of females in Nigeria who are educated.

1.4 Research Questions

The following research questions are generated to guide this study:

  1. What is the significant relationship between female education and Nigeria’s GDP?
  2. What are the challenges of female education in Nigeria?
  3. What are the ways of improving female education in Nigeria?
  4. Has the media contributed in promoting female education in Nigeria?
  5. What is the percentage of females in Nigeria who are educated?

1.5 Research Hypothesis

H0: There is no significant relationship between female education and Nigeria’s GDP.

H1: There is a significant relationship between female education and Nigeria’s GDP.

1.6 Significance of the Study

This study is meant to inform, educate, sensitize and enlighten the general public, government and policy makers on the importance of female education towards achieving national development.

It is meant to educate parents on the importance of sending their female children to school.

The study aims at reminding the government that they have a part to play in ensuring female education in Nigeria. In fact, it should be enacted as a law that females should be given compulsory education in Nigeria.

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.

1.7 Scope of the Study / Limitations of the Study

This study is restricted to female education in Nigeria; the key to development.

Limitations of study
1. Financial constraint

Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).

2. Time constraint

The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.

1.9 Definition of Terms

Female Education:

This refers to every form of education that aims at improving the knowledge, and skill of women and girls. It includes general education at schools and colleges, vocational and technical education, professional education, health education, etc. Women education encompasses both literary and non-literary education.


This is the process in which someone or something grows or changes and becomes more advanced.

United Nations Educational, Scientific And Cultural Organisation (UNESCO):

Is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) based in Paris. Its declared purpose is to contribute to peace and security by promoting international collaboration through educational, scientific, and cultural reforms in order to increase universal respect for justice, the rule of law, and human rights along with fundamental freedom proclaimed in the United Nations Charter.

Millennium Development Goals (MDGs):

Is a UN initiative. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were the eight international development goals for the year 2015 that had been established following the Millennium Summit of the United Nations in 2000, following the adoption of the United Nations Millennium Declaration.

Chapter Five

Discussion, Conclusion and Recommendations

This chapter dealt with the concluding part of the research work and it is structured in the following ways: discussion of findings, educational implications of the study, summary of the study, recommendations, conclusion and suggestions for further studies

5.1 Discussion of Findings

Research question one which was analysed on table 1 found that the challenges of women education in urban areas in Igbo-Eze North Local Government Area of Enugu State includes: insecurity and sexual harassment from male peers; sex differentiation in occupational choice; inaccessibility of some settlement such as the riverine areas; cultural and religious factors, such as early marriages, and economic factors: such as costs of acquiring education as a tool for national development.

This is in tandem with Alayande (2003) who identified certain problems in relations to the education of women for effective contribution to national development to include: cultural and religious factors, such as early marriages and the practice of purdah by the Muslims; school location; schools are located faraway from parents’ homes of the females. this brings about the problem of transportation; opportunity gains of formal education to parents; time spent on household activities by the girls, and sometimes, girls taking care of the young ones when the mother attends school; the nomadic life-style among the fulani tribe; curriculum and instructional materials, and insecurity and sexual harassment from male peers or teachers.

Research question two which was analysed on table 2 found that extents to which women are keying into educational pursuits in urban areas in Igbo-Eze North Local Government Area of Enugu State includes: I attended primary school; I attended secondary school; I do not have first degree due to unavoidable reasons; I do not have master’s degree due to unavoidable reasons, and I do not have Ph.D due to unavoidable reasons. Therefore, the findings from the foregoing shows the majority of the respondents could not attend post-secondary level of education due to reasons they claimed are many to be surmounted.

Research question three which was analysed on table 3 that the benefits of women education in urban areas in Igbo-Eze North Local Government Area of Enugu State includes: it helps to enlighten women on their potentials to breakthrough in career; to enable women to improve their family’s health and diet; helping women to fight their own fears and feelings of inadequacy or inferiority; toenhance nation building in terms of economic and human development, and to make women participate fully in all the affairs of their nation and to be at centre of sustainable development.

Research question four which was analysed on table 4 that role of women education in Igbo-Eze North Local Government Area of Enugu State: economic role for sustainable development; political role for sustainable development; family role for sustainable development; religious role for sustainable development, and educational role for sustainable development. In consonant with the foregoing findings, Jones (2007) categorized the role of women education in the following ways: man-power role; politics role; family up-bringing role; socio-economic role; personal development role; education role; health role; status role and decision- making role. These show that women are surely indispensable in the quest for sustainable development.

5.2 Summary of the Study

The study investigated the role of women education in Igbo-Eze North Local Government Area of Enugu State, Nigeria. Descriptive survey research design, four (4) research questions and population of 2,351 respondents were adopted.

Purposive sampling technique guided the study in selecting sample size of five hundred (500) respondents which represents 21.3% of the targeted population. Structured questionnaire was employed in data collection while Arithmetic mean (X) statistic was used to analyze the data. In review of other related studies, The concept of women education has no generally accepted definition as seen from the forgoing review, yet, it has to be understood as educational advocacies or thoughts aimed at encouraging women to key into available educational programmes for proper civilization and skill development. In the concept framework, women education, content of women’s education, contributions of women’s education to national development in Nigeria, and hindrances to women education were given proper attention.

Theoretically, Feminist Theory by Chafetz Janet Saltzman in 1997 guided the study. The theory threw more light on the tussle between male and female in attempt to gain more control and power in societal affairs. It therefore summarized that the females have exceptional and indispensable role they play in the society. Thus, female should not be discriminated from expressing themselves in all sectors of the economy. In the empirical studies, it was noted that all the reported did not consider the role of women education, especially in Igbo-Eze North local government area of Enugu state, hence the gap this study stands to fill.

The study found among other things that challenges of women education in urban areas in Igbo-Eze North Local Government Area of Enugu State includes: insecurity and sexual harassment from male peers; sex differentiation in occupational choice; inaccessibility of some settlement such as the riverine areas; cultural and religious factors, such as early marriages, and economic factors: such as costs of acquiring education as a tool for national development. Also, the role of women education in Igbo-Eze North Local Government Area of Enugu State include: economic role for sustainable development; political role for sustainable development; family role for sustainable development; religious role for sustainable development, and educational role for sustainable development.

5.3 Conclusion

The past 20 years have witnessed improved- but not sufficient – enrolment of the female population in higher education. However, a closer analysis of higher education statistics reveals the different nature of the problem in different socio- cultural and economic contexts. A number of cultural barriers still exist in the
Nigerian society which seriously impedes women’s development as citizens and professionals. Efforts to improve female education in Nigeria needs to go beyond rhetoric and should involve policies and programs with measurable results. Efforts to ensure that education is made accessible to low-income families and rural populations, with special attention and sensitivity to women/girls is paramount if family stability and in turn national development is desirable in Igbo-Eze North L.G.A. in particular and Nigeria in general.

5.4 Recommendations

Below are some recommendations for women education, family stability and national development in Nigeria to thrive.

  1. Both the policy makers and school administrators need to promote the principle of equality between women and men in school curricula, educational programs and teaching activities. In order to realize the above stated the steps highlighted below are necessary:
    1. Introduce the issue of gender equality in teachers’ training programs;
    2. Include information and knowledge about the family, gender equality, duties of women and men in the family and shared responsibility of all family members for its proper functioning in sexual education programs.
  2. Both the various governments (national, state and local) and non- governmental agencies should set up programmes that carry out and popularize through the media educational and information programs on promoting equal status of women and men. It is necessary to improve networks for utilizing findings of research and studies on gender-based issues to raise social awareness on the issue of equal rights and opportunities in education and employment. These can be done through the following ways:
    1. Use the media to promote international documents pertaining to women’s rights and gender equality;
    2. Disseminate data and findings of studies providing information on the situation of women and men in Nigeria- support research institutions conducting such studies.
  3. The policy makers in education need to develop practical oriented mechanisms targeted at ensuring equal access to education for women and men (in all types of schools and at all levels) and taking particular account of the situation in rural areas. This can be achieved through the following ways:
    1. Provide specialized school and vocational counseling, free of stereotypes reinforcing the segmentation of the labor market and feminization of some of its sectors;
    2. Introduce the broad profiles of vocational education for girls and boys (at all levels) to facilitate adaptation to the changing conditions and needs of a local labor market;
    3. Ensure that women who dropped out of school because of family responsibilities are provided with opportunity to complete their education;
    4. Ensure full and equal participation of girls and women in extracurricular activities and school facilities, such as computer or vocational classes, or business management training;
    5. Ensure equal access, for girls and boys, to physical activities, recreational and sport classes, run both at and outside of school.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the importance of women’s education in Nigeria?

Education bestows on women a disposition for a lifelong acquisition of knowledge, values, attitudes, competence and skills. To ensure equal access to education, the National Policy on Education states that access to education is a right for all Nigerian children regardless of gender, religion and disability.

What is the history of girls’ education in Nigeria?

According to one Nigerian Historian, Kitetu, the native traditions’ philosophy was that a woman’s place is at home and this kept many girls away from education. However, with the government’s intervention and public awakening, parents began to send and keep their girl children in school.

What is the gender gap in education in Nigeria?

In Nigeria, there are large gender disparity between the education that which boys and girls receive. Many girls do not have access to adequate education past a certain age. In 2010, the female adult literacy rate (ages 15 and above) for Nigeria was 59.4% in comparison to the male adult literacy rate of 74.4%.

Are Nigerian women making progress within their society?

Currently Nigerian women are making progress within their society. In recent years, three male-dominated professions, the Nigerian Medical Association, the Nigerian Bar Association and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria, have been led by female presidents. 


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