Incentives to promote Girls Education in Northern Nigeria
The goal of this initiative is to delay the age of marriage and the onset of childbearing, and enhance women’s’ livelihood capacity and health outcomes in collaborating communities in Zaria, Nigeria. We are researching the use of incentives to increase girls school enrollment. In the communities where we work less the 7% of girls have ever attended secondary school.
Major impediments to girl education include:
After inquiring about barriers to girl child education, Population and Reproductive Health Partnership asked what the communities and our program can do together to overcome these obstacles. A consensus developed about the incentives the program should provide to encourage parents to enroll their girls. We will provide books and uniforms to all girls attending primary school in the communities of Shika Dam and Tsibiri. (Dakace is urban and girls’ primary school enrollment is already high there.)
There is a large drop in girls’ enrollment after the last year of primary school. This is when many get married. Teachers stressed the importance of providing a bridge from primary to junior secondary school. They requested, and we agreed, to provide school fees and books for all girls entering Junior Secondary School from the three communities.
In sum, each girl registering in primary school will get two uniforms-to be made in the communities-which will cost about $3 each. Primary school books and materials for one year will be roughly $4.00 per girl. Junior Secondary School (JSS) registration and school fees run about $20/year and their books will cost another $15. We are setting aside a portion of this years’ budget in order to guarantee parents that any primary school girl that maintains a 90% attendance rate will receive books and uniforms until she graduates from primary school. The junior secondary school girls will receive school fees and books until graduating from JSS.
However, the full cost and effort of getting the girls into school and keeping them there is will be shared by the parents, community, teachers, and our program. The parents will provide daily lunch money which runs at least $40/year. The mothers have also agreed to accept the opportunity costs of not having their daughters hawk for them during school hours. The teachers will monitor attendance and the community PTAs have promised to meet with parents whose daughters start missing classes.
We originally intended to provide much more significant incentives for school attendance. However, the strength of the community response suggested that we can provide less costly incentives than planned and rely on the PTAs and community leaders to encourage regular school attendance. This reduced expenditure will make the program far easier to scale-up in the future.