Does Nigeria have the world’s most girls out-of-school, as activist Malala claimed?


Celebrated girls’ rights campaigner Malala Yousafzai visited Nigeria where she called for a state of emergency on education. Does she get full marks for her claim that the country has the most out-of-school girls globally?

As part of a global #GirlPowerTrip, Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai visited Nigeria, where she pressed the acting president to declare a state of emergency in education.

“I urged him, the minister of education and other leaders to triple spending on education, make budgets transparent and encourage all states in Nigeria to pass the Child’s Rights Act,” the education activist wrote of her meeting with Yemi Osinbajo. (Note: The act provides for free, compulsory and universal education for every Nigerian child.)

Yousafzai then said that Nigeria “has the highest number of out-of-school girls in the world”. This claim was also tweeted by the Malala Fund, her educational charity.

Does Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, also account for the highest number of girls who are out-of-school globally? We graded the evidence.

‘First time senior officials admitted size of problem’

According to the country brief, while primary school enrollment has increased in recent years, “Nigeria still has 10.5 million out-of-school children – the world’s highest number”. About 60% of these are girls, the organisation noted.The Malala Fund directed Africa Check to the Nigeria page of Unicef, the UN arm that focuses on the well-being of children, as the source of their claim.

After Yousafzai’s visit, the country’s education ministry’s permanent secretary Adamu Hussaini was quoted as saying that it was “sad to note” that Nigeria had 10.5 million children out-of-school. This, the BBC report added, “was the first time senior officials have admitted the size of the problem”.

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This fact-check was written byDavid Ajikobi, researcher for Africa Check, a non-partisan fact-checking organisation. View the original piece on their website here.