Northern Education Initiative (NEI)
|Student at Islamiyyah Gaji, Sokoto State, Nigeria. Photograph by Sandy Oleksy-Ojikutu|
NEI is USAID/Nigeria’s flagship Education project being implemented in the focus States of Bauchi and Sokoto. Despite the Government of Nigeria’s (GON’s) commitment to providing universal basic education, the delivery of education services is inadequate, and even more so in northern Nigeria. NEI strengthens state and local government systems that lay the foundation for delivering quality education services for out-of-school youth and orphans and vulnerable children.
In addition, the gender disparities in education between the northern and southern geopolitical zones are stark. Nationally, about 43% of primary school-aged girls do not have access to basic education, and approximately two million more girls than boys are out of school. In northern Nigeria, the percentage of girls who have ever attended school stands at 34% and 39%, respectively; for secondary school the figures are 10% and 15%.
Approximately six million students, including a significant number of girls, are enrolled in Qur’anic schools, predominantly in the northern region of the country. These schools are defined as those offering only religious instruction and recitation of the Qur’an, do not offer any formal education curriculum, and are under the direction of mosque leaders and local Imams. In some Qur’anic schools, male children (referred to as Almajiri) often leave very poor families to attend these schools and are often encouraged to beg on the streets for money to pay for their care and instruction. Gradually, some of these Qur’anic schools are evolving into Islamiyya schools by integrating aspects of a formal primary school curriculum.
NEI strengthens state and local government capacity to deliver basic education services by addressing key management, sustainability, and oversight issues at the basic education level in selected northern Nigerian states. Strengthened systems include policy development and implementation; information management and data for decision-making; and human resource development and management, including training, monitoring, and supervision.
NEI works to increase access of orphans and vulnerable children to basic education and other services in Bauchi and Sokoto, through innovative approaches such as learning centers that will cater to the literacy needs of out-of-school youth and mainstream them into the formal education system. Almajiri children will be integrated into this approach to address their special vulnerability. Services include in-school and out-of-school activities, life skills education, and psycho-social support skills building for teachers and community members. The children will also be provided with referrals to health centers in their locality that are supported by additional USAID health and HIV interventions.
The project partners with Nigeria’s Universal Basic Education Commission and State Ministries of Education, Women Affairs, Religious Affairs, Budget and Planning, and their subsidiaries at the local government level. In addition, NEI works with civil society organizations in each state to strengthen their capacity to engage with government institutions to engender community participation in service delivery and input into policy formulation and implementation.
The project also builds on past USAID activities aimed at instituting accountability and informed resource management processes. To this end, the State Education Account tool, applied in USAID/Nigeria’s previous interventions, is being applied in Bauchi and Sokoto.
NEI also uses data from Nigeria’s National Education Data Survey [funded by USAID and the U.K. Department for International Development (DFID), 2010] to assist Sokoto and Bauchi in better education policy formulation, planning, and reforms. NEI is collaborating with DFID’s Education Sector Support Project in Nigeria (ESSPIN) in the application, analysis, and reporting of the Early Grade Reading and Early Grade Mathematics measures in the two NEI and six ESSPIN states, for joint reporting to the GON.
- Project Name: Northern Education Initiative (NEI)
- Life of Project: 2009 - 2013
- Funding: $43,598,500.00 (USAID education funds: $32.6m; USAID HIV [PEPFAR] funds: $11m)
- Implementing Partner: Creative Associates International, Inc.
- Geographic Focus: Bauchi and Sokoto States
- Strengthened state and local government capacity to deliver basic education services by addressing key issues in the management, sustainability, and oversight of basic education in Sokoto and Bauchi. Systems strengthened include:
- Policy development and implementation
- Information management and data for decision-making
- Human resource development and management, including training, monitoring, and supervision
- Financial resource management and budgeting
- Increased access to primary education, particularly for girls
- Increased access of orphans and vulnerable children to basic education and support, including:
- In school and out of school activities
- Life skills education