By Ogalah Ibrahim

The United Nations Children Funds UNICEF said Katsina State recorded the highest increase in literacy rates among states that participated in the Girls Education Project Phase 3 (GEP3).

The UNICEF Chief, Kano field office, Mr Rahama Farah made this known at the closure event for the GEP3 held in Katsina on Thursday.

The GEP3 was implemented in six northern Nigeria states which have a high-burden of out-of-school girls, namely, Katsina, Kano, Bauchi, Niger, Sokoto and Zamfara.

According to Farah, GEP3 saw an overall improvement on literacy in the six states from 22.6 to 37per cent; while Katsina State has the highest increase from 27.1 to 42.1 per cent in literacy rate of young women aged 15-24 years.

The UNICEF Kano Field Chief Officer also noted that overall gender parity in primary School improved from 0.71 to 0.87 with Katsina State registering the greatest improvement from 0.75 to near parity at 0.99.
Farah noted that with this feat, Katsina State has now enrolled nearly an equal number of girls in primary as that of boys.

While commending the partnership with the High-level Women Advocates among others, Farah also noted that “the rate of early marriage for those below 19 years in the target states decreased from 49.3 to 30.1 percent.

Farah also commended the Katsina state government for passing new legislation on “Children’s Access to Basic Education in the state and for connected matters” aimed at promoting access to education for all, especially girls.

He also noted that “overall in terms of learner attendance in primary, there has been a great improvement from 43% at the start of the project to 70% at its closure.”

Farah while reflecting on some other key achievements of GEP3 in the last 10 years said:

“As we close the GEP3 project, let’s briefly reflect on some of its key achievements:

“On access to learning, the partnership achieved an enrolment of 1.5million girls in school; removed barriers to learning for over 50,000 boys and girls through cash transfers, and changed perceptions of many parents on the importance of girl’s education

“Other achievements include capacity development of Education Management Information System (EMIS) teams at school, LGA and state levels, as well as head teacher capacity development in school records keeping, and overall management.

The Girls Education Project Phase 3 (GEP3) sought to ensure more girls enrolled, completed basic education and acquired skills for life and livelihoods in northern Nigeria.

“GEP3 also invested heavily in teacher development which led to great improvement in learning outcomes as the percentage of teachers in Integrated Quranic Schools who demonstrate minimum teaching competencies because of being trained has increased by 30% compared to 12% baseline impacting on learning outcomes for pupils which increased marginally by 2 percentage points at baseline to 4 percent during the same period.

However, Farah noted that despite these considerable achievements of the project, there is still a huge need to invest more in education and girls’ education in Nigeria, particularly in Katsina State and the north-west of Nigeria to ensure that all children have an equal opportunity to quality education.

The Girls Education Project Phase 3 (GEP3) sought to ensure more girls enrolled, completed basic education and acquired skills for life and livelihoods in northern Nigeria.

The GEP3 funded by the Government of the UK through the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) was supported by UNICEF and implemented in partnership with the Federal and State governments through the Ministry of Education, State Universal Basic Education Board, States’ Agencies for Mass Education, and Local Government Education Authorities.

On behalf of UNICEF Nigeria Country Office, Farah appreciated the generous and continuous support provided by the donor, and the great leadership role played by the Government of Nigeria in the implementation of the GEP3 project.

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