World Education Day: ‘Japa’ and the plight of Nigerian Girls
by Aderonke Olisa
Editor, Loretta Enofe-Laurel
“Japa” is the Nigerian word for relocation.Japa as we know it has become a booming business due to the call by A- nations such as Canada, the United Kingdom to developing nations for recruitment of skilled and unskilled labour. Toward the end of 2022, a call was made for Nigerian Teachers to apply for a skilled visa from the British Commission. As wonderful as that sounds, the repercussions are so numerous and dangerous to the Nigerian educational system. The Nigerian educational system has been one surviving on only one leg of the stool and with the advent of this “japa” route, I think it will eventually collapse as many teachers have begun leaving the system to pursue greener pastures.
Where does that leave the Nigerian Girl Child?In Nigeria, we have over 6 million out-of-school girls according to UNICEF. Girls are at a disadvantage in accessing quality education and this is due to various factors one of which is the lack of school staff and facilities. Efforts are being made by numerous non-governmental organizations, CSOs, and international NGOs to enroll and retain girls in school through different programs which have yielded positive results. With many teachers relocating in this “japa” season, more schools will lack the staff to teach the students and this could further lead to an increase in low performance on external examinations, and school dropouts, because the girls could lose interest in education which may expose them to be at risk of teenage pregnancy, human trafficking, early marriage and other disadvantage situations that can pose a barrier to them maximizing their potentials to become great women and future leaders.
What can be done?The Nigerian government should step up in putting more funds into the education budget so that salaries can be increased, more training can be done, adequate facilities for conducive teaching and learning, and more incentives provided to increase the quality of life of a teacher. After all, only a teacher who is well cared for will be able to offer optimal quality services to the system. The Nigerian system NEEDS to pay more attention to the state of the educational sector because this is the backbone of any economy. This aligns with this year’s theme of the International Day For Education
More girls will remain in school if there are equipped, assessable (affordable and accessible) schools with highly-skilled teachers they engage and connect with who care beyond their academic performance but about them as individuals. It’s time to invest wisely! ——– Reference
To invest in people,