In a groundbreaking move to tackle the education crisis and empower adolescent girls in Nigeria, the World Bank has approved a substantial $700 million loan.
This generous funding is set to breathe new life into the Adolescent Girls Initiative for Learning and Empowerment (AGILE) program. The impact of this initiative, however, extends far beyond the classroom, encompassing teachers, administrators, families, communities, and newly established schools.
The news was unveiled through a statement on the World Bank’s website last Friday. The statement emphasized the loan’s core objective: improving secondary education opportunities for girls in targeted states.
It was also revealed that the loan would expand project activities from seven to eleven additional states, making a significant stride towards addressing the education crisis.
Highlighting the dire situation, the statement noted that Nigeria faces the formidable challenge of accommodating an estimated 12 million to 15 million out-of-school children, a substantial portion of whom are concentrated in Northern Nigeria.
Furthermore, the security situation in the country had a dire impact, with around one million children affected by increased insecurity around schools in 2020-2021.
The AGILE program has already demonstrated its potential by increasing the number of girls in secondary schools in its implementing states from about 900,000 to over 1.6 million.
Additionally, the initiative has renovated over 5,000 classrooms, awarded scholarships to more than 250,000 eligible girls, and improved infrastructure with WASH facilities, computers, and solar panels.
Shubham Chaudhuri, the World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, underlined the importance of closing gender gaps in economic empowerment through education, stating, “Investing in adolescent girls is imperative when addressing overall economic prospects and growth.”
The loan, which marks the third approved under the administration of Bola Tinubu, will extend the project’s coverage to 18 states, aiming to enhance education and healthcare outcomes for girls in Nigeria.
The first loan, approved in June 2023, injected $750 million to boost Nigeria’s power sector, while the second, granted in the same month, offered $500 million to advance women’s empowerment.