Empowering Northwest Nigeria: EU Invests 5.4 Million Euros in Education and Youth Development

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By Cecilia Attah

In an effort to address the critical challenges facing education in the Northwest region of Nigeria, the European Union (EU) has unveiled a groundbreaking initiative.

Northwest Nigeria, comprising the states of Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Jigawa, Sokoto, and Zamfara, struggles with significant educational issues.

Despite primary education being officially free and compulsory, approximately 10.5 million children aged 5-14 remain out of school. Only 61 per cent of 6-11-year-olds attend primary school regularly, and the quality of basic education in the region is a matter of grave concern, leading to subpar learning outcomes. This dire situation has prompted a transformative response.

It is to this end, to transform education and empower youth in Northwest Nigeria, the European Union (EU) has announced a substantial investment of an additional 5.4 million euros to bolster the skills and capabilities of teachers in the region.

This commitment was announced by the EU Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, at the official launch of a 40 million Euro intervention program under the Global Gateway initiative aimed at enhancing education and empowering youth in North Western Nigeria.

Aligned with the EU’s dedication to reducing the alarming number of out-of-school children in the Northwest region, Jutta Urpilainen says that the additional investment is designed to enhance the resilience and capacity of teachers, recognizing their pivotal role in shaping the future.

“There is no education without teachers, and that’s why we also have to invest in teacher training,” Urpilainen stated.

Additionally, she emphasized that the initiative is designed to empower young individuals by equipping them with crucial skills through vocational education and campaigns challenging societal norms, particularly empowering girls and also ensuring education accessibility for out-of-school children, with a special emphasis on enrolling and retaining girls in schools, but also includes comprehensive support for families.

“The programme which we are launching today supports access to education for out-of-school children with a specific focus on bringing and keeping girls in schools. It also includes direct assistance to families’ cash transfers, social protection, income generation, gifts and indirect assistance through agricultural practices.”

Urpilainen stressed that the EU’s approach extends beyond targeting the youth, but it is actively empowering them by involving them directly through initiatives like the Youth Sounding Board.

“The EU is not only targeting the youth through this specific program, it is also bringing the youth to the driving seat, and this is why, as the EU, we set up the Youth Sounding Board, also here in Nigeria, as well as in many countries to make sure that what we do is for the youth but also by the youth.”

The program’s multifaceted approach encompasses validated teaching and learning methods, child-centred medical and sexual reproductive health support, gender equality training, and strengthening community-based and state-level capacities for education delivery. Working closely with Nigerian authorities, the EU aims to ensure that the program is tailored to local needs and is community-owned.

Governor Umar Namadi of Jigawa, on behalf of the northwest governors, expressed gratitude for the EU’s support in addressing the out-of-school children issue in the region, acknowledging the urgency of the situation in the Northwestern states and their commitment to education.

“The Northwestern states have the highest population in the country, we are more disadvantaged when it comes to education.’’

“This support has come at the right time, and I assure you that this support will go a long way in helping us to revamp education in our various states,” he stated.

The Minister of Education, Tahir Mamman, who also spoke during the launching, emphasized the pivotal role of education in national development.

He highlighted the need to empower youth, stating, “If our youths are not properly catered for, trained and empowered, we are toying with the future of the country.”

He called on state governors to prioritize education and youth empowerment, echoing the government’s commitment to allocate 25% of the budget to education, supported by ongoing policy developments justifying this allocation.

“Our government is ready to commit 25% of the budget to education; all the President needs are policies that will justify that budget, and that is what we are working on.”

The Nigerian government has welcomed the EU’s initiative, acknowledging the importance of international collaboration in strengthening the country’s education system. Government officials have pledged their support to ensure the smooth implementation of the teacher training program, integrating it into the national education framework.

As the EU’s investment in teacher training takes root, it is expected to have a profound impact on the education landscape in Northwest Nigeria. By empowering teachers with advanced skills and knowledge, students will benefit from a more engaging and effective learning experience. Improved teaching methods are expected to elevate student performance, increase graduation rates, and cultivate a generation of skilled individuals prepared to make meaningful contributions to society.

This significant step by the European Union reaffirms the belief that education is the key to unlocking the nation’s potential, one classroom at a time. It marks a crucial stride toward building a brighter future for Northwest Nigeria, where education and youth empowerment take centre stage.


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