Nigerian School Dropouts

According to UNICEF, about 10.5 million Nigerian children aged 5-14 years are not in school. Only 61 percent of 6-11 year-olds regularly attend primary school and only 35.6 percent of children aged 36-59 months receive early childhood education. Here are some factors that contribute to the high rate of children’s dropout from school in the country. 


A child can drop out of school due to financial implications. Even though primary education is free, parents still need to provide textbooks and sometimes, food for their children. The children are more prone to drop out of school when the parents fail to make these provisions.

For the secondary students, lack of funds for school fees is the primary cause of drop out of school in Nigeria.

Children in rural areas have more tendency to begin working at an earlier age than their counterparts in the cities. They are often placed with the responsibility of taking care of their younger siblings and cleaning up the house. This is usually because their parents have to work to get their wages and it causes the children to drop out of school.

Bad School Environment

Making an impact and sustaining students in school requires having good teachers. Teachers attitude toward students contributes significantly to students dropping out of school. So they need to make a better effort in their teaching practices. By paying more attention to their students and being conscious about the way they speak or carry themselves in school.

The distance of the school from the home is also something to be considered when it comes to school dropouts. If the school is too far from home, there will be cause to worry about the cost of transportation and safety. If they can’t afford to travel. Even in the rare instances where it’s safe to walk to school, time and energy needed to cover the distance for children with empty stomachs makes it discouraging.

Cultural Factors

A large portion of the Nigerian society considers girls’ schooling as of no benefit when they leave their family after getting married. The girls then have to drop out of school to get married at an early age (especially in the northern part).

When girls reach puberty, some parents see this as the time for them to be married and tend to arrange the marriage instead of continuing schooling. Early marriage of girls results in dropouts from school in Nigeria. 

Even without early marriage, teenage pregnancy is a significant cause of school dropout for girls. Some unexpected circumstances for girls such as lack of economic support for their education lead to early motherhood and consequent dropout from schools.

The dropout rate of girls is higher than the dropout rate of boys and the foremost cause for girls to drop out is pregnancy.

Cultural norms and beliefs constrain girls’ education in Nigeria and other developing countries of the world. Particularly in the Northern region of the country, traditional values and some religious beliefs constrain girls from making their own decisions and expressing their own opinions.

In these settings, parents tend to be more concerned about the role for girls at home as in this role, girls do not need education since they are supposed to take care of the children and prepare meals.

Consequently, girls are restricted to only religious classes which provide relevant skills for future married life as skilled wives. These traditional values are stronger in rural areas of the country compared to urban areas and people often do not allow girls to leave homes even for schools.

Based on the above findings, this article provides a few recommendations, which policy planners may adopt for future intervention.

There is a need for governments to plan some special polices to improve basic Nigerian education. Thanks to the Buhari-led administration for introducing school feeding program for public schools across the federation.

There is also the need for governments and private other stakeholders in the Nigerian education sector to invest in infrastructure in schools to ensure a favourable environment for learning.

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