The World Bank Wednesday approved a $500 million credit from the International Development Association (IDA) for the Adolescent Girls Initiative for Learning and Empowerment (AGILE) programme, to improve secondary education opportunities among girls in some northern states.
The bank listed the beneficiary states to include: Kano, Kebbi, Kaduna, Katsina, Borno, Plateau and Ekiti
It said in a statement that the project would support access to secondary education and empowerment for adolescent girls in the seven states.
According to the statement titled, "Nigeria to boost support for keeping adolescent girls in school," the adolescent girls face many constraints in accessing and completing secondary education.
The bank noted that in northern Nigeria, for instance, the lack of secondary schools was significantly greater with up to 10 primary schools for every secondary school.
"Poor condition of infrastructure and a lack of water sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities make it difficult for girls to stay in school.
"In addition, close to 80 per cent of poor households are in the North, which makes it very challenging for them to cover the direct and indirect costs of schooling.
"All these factors have contributed towards limiting the number of girls that have access to secondary school.
"If nothing is done, 1.3 million girls out of the 1.85 million who began primary school in 2017/2018 in the northern states will drop out before reaching the last year of junior secondary school," the statement added.
According to the bank, the AGILE project will use the secondary school as a platform to empower girls through education, life skills, health education (such as nutrition, reproductive health) GBV awareness and prevention, negotiations skills, self-agency and digital literacy skills.
The bank said a minimum of six million girls and boys would benefit from the project and many more would continue benefiting thereafter.
Commenting on the initiative, the World Bank's Country Director for Nigeria, Mr. Shubham Chaudhuri, said: "There is no better investment to accelerate Nigeria's human capital development than to significantly boost girls' education.
"The AGILE project will enable Nigeria to make progress in improving access and quality of education for girls, especially in northern Nigeria. Addressing the key structural impediments in a comprehensive way will create the enabling environment to help Nigeria ensure better outcomes for girls, which will translate into their ability to contribute to productivity and better economic outcomes for themselves and the country."
The project is expected to benefit about 6.7 million adolescents and additional 15.5 million direct project beneficiaries from families and communities in participating states.
The bank added that the project has also been adapted to respond to COVID-19 and would support a blended learning approach using technology and media (TV and radio) to implement remote and distance learning programmes.
World Bank stated that the AGILE project would expand primary, junior secondary schools and senior secondary schools to make them functional, safe, and inclusive to teaching and learning.
"This entails building more than 5,500 JSSs and 3,300 classrooms for SSSs, as well as improving 2,786 Junior Secondary and 1,914 Senior Secondary schools with safe, accessible, and inclusive infrastructure," it stated.
The bank said about 340,000 girls would receive life skills training in safe spaces, which would help them navigate challenges in life.
This, it added, would incorporate health information and key information on climate change, safety and gender-based violence awareness.
To help girls thrive in the digital economy, it added, 300,000 girls would receive digital literacy training.
The project would also offer 500,000 girls from the poorest households with financial incentives in the form of scholarships to further support their retention and completion of secondary school.
It will also help in raising awareness to address social norms and promote positive behaviors for a supportive and enabling environment for girls' education using communication and high-level advocacy, it stated.
World Bank's IDA was established in 1960 to assist the world's poorest countries by providing grants and low to zero-interest loans for projects and programmes that boost economic growth, reduce poverty and improve poor people's lives.