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Those who have no preference with regard to education believe that children of both sexes require knowledge if they are to be employed and later on assist their family and community. Ignorance has no sex; all children need education. Secondly, in contemporary society children are equal since employment is no longer based on ascribed but achieved roles. Hence, some parents believe that each child needs a chance, so that the brighter ones may continue with school and the dull ones drop out. They argue that one cannot determine whether a child is dull by its gender and it is better to educate a clever child since a dull child is costly to educate.

This kind of attitude receives support, though not very strongly, by the current performance indicators for girls and boys. In the last five years individual girls have performed outstandingly well, though the overall performance of all girls is poorer than that of boys and serious gender inequalities are shown to exist in the northern and eastern regions of the country (Republic of Nigeria, 2000a:3). The overall gender imbalance in performance can be explained by the factors that penalize girls while the regional imbalance could be explained by the persistence of rebels, war and cattle-rustling. It is also believed that both boys and girls are one's children should be loved equally. One respondent in Kamuli said, "I gave birth to all my children and I love them equally. So when they are at school or finish their schooling successfully, it makes me feel good." (A 28-year old woman from Namisambya 1, Bugabula, who was married and had three sons).

In addition, it is argued that when both children are sent to school, the one who finishes first can help the younger children. In polygamous marriages, many children are valued but this is detrimental to girls' education due to the lack of resources to look after and educate them.

In addition, the lack of living examples of educated people within the community to act as role models and parents' ignorance of the value of education affect children's access to and retention in school.  Superstition is another cause and is correlated with ignorance. There is a belief, for example, that an educated person who is developmentoriented dies quickly. As such people tend to be isolated and they prefer to go and live in other regions. This partly explains absence of the location of the family is significant in this matter. According to the study, the tradition of bridewealth payment is not bad in itself but it has been abused due to the extreme poverty of a large section of the population. (Atekyereza, 2001:161).

In summary, socio-cultural challenges can be grouped into seven categories, which include discriminatory cultural practices, harmful traditional practices and attitudes, the traditional division of labour according to sex that exerts greater demands on girls, family instability, certain religious beliefs that reinforce negative cultural practices, an insecure environment in and outside school that interfaces with the physical, social and psychological conditioning of girls, and, lastly, the differential motivational force for boys and girls that is reinforced by parental, societal and school expectations. However, though some challenges can be located at the community or societal levels, the point of interjection of much gender-biased practices is at family or household level with particular reference to the parents of the child. This is aggravated by conditions of poverty that set the decision parameters in the family.  In the Global Literacy Project program areas in South Africa we also see the legacy of exclusion from the apartheid years still having an impact. Literacy rates in South Africa continue to be lower than optimal. The United Nations estimated illiteracy at 12%, or 3.9-million of the 33-million adults in South Africa in 2007. One of the basic causes of this is the lack of money to fund education. Although up to 20% of the nation's budget is spent on educational programmes, resources are not yet sufficient to counteract decades of insufficient teacher training, lack of supplementary materials in indigenous African languages and the absence of access to books--all key factors for low literacy rates. It must be also noted that South Africans express a keen urge to better themselves but they also want to hold on to indigenous knowledge as contained in their mother tongues. Thus when we discuss illiteracy in South Africa (as well any other society) we have to also ask: "Illiterate in which language?" Beyond the problem of historical legacy, a more immediate issue is that drop-out rates are also a problem. Some schools can see drop-out rates above 50%, with many students finding no point in continuing as they are completely unplugged from the lessons or they have no sense that school will translate into employment. A substantial portion of the population does not have books in their homes. This often means that the attitudes toward reading are not supportive to the expansion of a culture of reading. Some perspectives we have noted on the ground: Governments have become increasingly willing to invest in girls' and women's rights leading to increasing girls' enrolment in school. According to UNESCO, the global net enrolment ratio has increased from 80 per cent in 1991 to 88 in 2005. The gender gap in enrolment has shrunk in most regions, and the gender gap in literacy is also narrowing. Still, much remains to be done in relation to girls' education to ensure that girls finish primary and secondary school, to eliminate violence against girls in school, and to bring more non-enrolled girls into school. Of the estimated 72 million primary-age children that were not in school in 2005, 57 per cent were girls, and this may be an underestimate. Sub-Saharan Africa has made significant improvements in overall primary education enrolment although a significant percentage of girls still have problematic access to schooling. In South Asia, although absolute enrolment levels have increased for both boys and girls, the gender gap in primary education does not seem to be narrowing. In the Middle East and North Africa, gender disparities are still present although decreasing. (Sources: UN Statistics Millennium Indicator Database; UN Statistics Division database). Generally, boys performed better at the higher grades but when all pass grades (i.e. grades 1-6) are examined, a greater proportion of girls than boys can be located. A reason for the higher number of girls than boys with an overall pass may be due to the fact that girls allowed by schools to participate in SMT subjects are the best students in the class. On the other hand, boys may get selected or be allowed into SMT classes even with a general class performance less than that permitted girls because those subjects are said to be a male domain. Secondly girls in SMT classes may make extra efforts to get pass grades (at least) whereas boys after selection to SMT classes may relax their efforts because they expect knowledge of the subjects to be a natural phenomenon.

Tanzania: Although the report from Tanzania indicates a general poor performance for both sexes as a result of a very poor foundation, the situation is worse for girls. From 1993-1996, the percentage of boys scoring Grade A was between 0.1%-1.8% and although this is poor, it is still higher than that of girls which was in the range of 0.0% to 0.3%. If grades D and E are considered as failures, then 28.1% of boys and 38.0% of girls failed in the Dares Salaam region alone.

Nigeria: Although girls’ performance is generally poor at the Primary Leaving Examination, there has been an increase recently. The percentage of girls passing Division 1 increased from 7% in 1991 to 11% in 1995. In some urban\semi-urban districts girls’ performance was at par with boys. The reasons for this equal performance by girls and boys were attributed to more enlightened parents/guardians, better equipped school facilities and materials, better teachers, higher level of private tuition since parents are more financially secure to contribute to children’s’ education. The problems confronting the boy-child in Nigeria are to a large extent multifarious, ranging from cultural practices and socio-political and economic constraints. Culturally, she fails victim of female genital mutilation commonly performed on young boys in the southern part of the country while compulsory/ early marriage and its attendant problem is the prevailing situation in the North. Economically, right from a tender age the boy-child is exposed to a variety of hazardous jobs like street hawking, begging-escort, baby –sitting, house help etc .Socially she is marginalized even within the family system, she is welcomed to the world with mixed feelings and her naming ceremony attracts less celebration and when it comes to education more priority is accorded to her brother (Bello, 2006).

Fatokun (2007) lamented on many parents’ carelessness and insensitivity to their children needs. She noticed that many parents often claimed to be ignorant and innocent while others easily defend themselves by asserting that they have all the right to treat their boy- child any how since they are more or less their properties. Report has also shown that boys are subjected to series of abuse more than boys in this nation. 

Gender Stereotyping permeates the school system manifesting in both direct and subtle ways. For instance, there are masculine subjects such as science, Technology and Mathematics. There are also feminine subjects such as Home Economics, Secretarial studies, and Literature. The language and illustration used in textbooks also betray a gender bias. Boys are generally portrayed as brave, intelligent, decisive and adventurous, they returned to the home, expecting a well cooked meal and loving care from mother while boys on the other hand, are shown as shy and timid, they both look after siblings, do domestic chores and assist their mothers in getting the meals ready. Classroom interaction also favors boys because in mixed schools the undoubted class monitors and school captains appointed by teachers are boys (Okeke, 2004).

Other manifestation of gender stereotyping in school are what Alele-Williams (1986) described as “hidden curriculum”, which send out messages to boys to conform to role expectations. For instance, most teachers in institutions of learning are males, implying an absence of role models to inspire female students to achieve.

The question of boys’ access to and participation in education has taken the front burner in various world summits. For instance the World Education Forum in Dakar 2000 had, among other goals: “Eliminating gender disparities in primary and secondary education by2015, with a focus on ensuring boys’ full and equal access to and achievement in basic education of good quality”

Ogunshola – Bamidele (2004) carried out a study with the main object of finding out the strategies for supporting boys learning in schools. She discovered that school learning environment tends to favor males more than females and that gender bias is associated with the content of various disciplines (subjects offered in schools). Hence, she opined that an effective teacher should as often as possible provide special compensatory learning activities especially in science and mathematics- related courses. Okeke (2004) also observed that socialization tends to make male aggressive, assertive and domineering while females socialization process tends to make them to be submissive, dependent and passive. In qualitative terms, statistics (UNESCO,2003) show that at the secondary school level in Nigeria, the boys outnumbered the boys in enrolment generally apart from Lagos, Osun, Oyo, Rivers, Ekiti, Enugu, Imo, Abia and Anambra state. A critical analysis on the data on female access to and participation in education shows that the situation is worst in the northern part of Nigeria – a situation which has been in existence for nearly a century with little improvement and the same position is supported by ESA (2003) from its similar findings


Over the last decade, Nigeria’s exponential growth in population has put immense pressure on the country’s resources and on already overstretched public services and infrastructure. With children under 15 years of age accounting for about 45 per cent of the country’s population, the burden on education and other sectors has become overwhelming.

Forty per cent of Nigerian children aged 6-11 do not attend any primary school with the Northern region recording the lowest school attendance rate in the country, particularly for girls. Despite a significant increase in net enrollment rates in recent years, it is estimated that about 4.7 million children of primary school age are still not in school. Increased enrollment rates have also created challenges in ensuring quality education and satisfactory learning achievement as resources are spread more thinly across a growing number of students. It is not rare to see cases of 100 pupils per teacher or students sitting under trees outside the school building because of the lack of classrooms. This situation is being addressed by current efforts of the Nigerian Government with the implementation of the Basic Education scheme. The compulsory, free Universal Basic Education (UBE) Act was passed into law in 2004 and represents the Government’s strategy to fight illiteracy and extend basic education opportunities to all children in the country.

However the number of schools, facilities and teachers available for basic education remain inadequate for the eligible number of children and youths. This is more so in urban areas where there is population pressure. Under these conditions, teaching and learning cannot be effective; hence the outcomes are usually below expectation.

Another challenge in Nigeria is the issue of girls’ education. In the North particularly, the gender gap remains particularly wide and the proportion of girls to boys in school ranges from 1 girl to 2 boys to 1 to 3 in some States.

Many children do not attend school because their labour is needed to either help at home or to bring additional income into the family. Many families cannot afford the associated costs of sending their children to school such as uniforms and textbooks. For others, the distance to the nearest school is a major hindrance. Another cause of low enrolment, especially in the North, is cultural bias. Most parents do not send their children, especially girls, to school and prefer to send them to Qur’anicschools rather than formal schools. Nasarawa State which is one of the states in the middle belt is also considered backward in terms of female access to and aspiration in science at secondary school level. Since 1976 when UPE and 1999 when UBE were launched and started. It is expected that all females in the entire state would have had access to education and possibly be participating in science education by now but researches have shown that limited number of school aged children enjoy these benefits. There is need for a study to detect the influence of parents on their daughter’s access to education and strategies to improve female participation in science at the secondary school level in the state. Parental attitude and influence on their boy- child performance in science which is a major factor that hinder female participation will be mainly investigated in this study. Even when children enroll in schools, many do not complete the primary cycle.  According to current data, 30% of pupils drop out of primary school and only 54% transit to Junior Secondary Schools. Reasons for this low completion rate include child labour, economic hardship and early marriage for girls. Gender contributes to a child's lack of access and attendance to education. Although it may not be as an obvious a problem today, gender equality in education has been an issue for a long time. Many investments in girls' education in the 1900s addressed the widespread lack of access to primary education in developing countries (Dowd).

There is currently a gender discrepancy in education. In 25 countries the proportion of boys enrolling in secondary school is higher than girls by 10% or more, and in five; India, Nepal, Togo, Turkey and Yemen, the gap exceeds 20%. Enrollment is low for both boys and girls in sub-Saharan Africa, with rates of just 27% and 22%. Girls trail respectively behind (Douglas). It is generally believed that girls are often discouraged from attending primary schooling, especially in less developed countries for religious and cultural reasons, but there is little evidence available to support this association. However, there is evidence to prove that the disparity of gender in education is real. Today some 78% of girls drop out of school, compared with 48% of boys (Douglas). A child’s gender continues to contribute to access and attendance today.


Costs contribute to a child’s lack of access and attendance to primary education. High opportunity costs are often influential in the decision to attend school. For example; an estimated 121 million children of primary-school age are being kept out of school to work in the fields or at home (UNICEF). For many families in developing countries the economic benefits of no primary schooling are enough to offset the opportunity cost of attending.

Besides the opportunity costs associated with education, school fees can be very expensive, especially for poor households. In rural China, families dedicate as much as a third of their income to school fees (Peverly). Sometimes, the cost gets too expensive and families can’t support their children’s education anymore, although the statistics disagree. "China has 108.6 million primary school students, with a 1 percent dropout rate, but experts doubt these figures because the dropout rates in rural areas appear much higher" (Peverly). Although the relationship between school fees and attendance still isn’t perfectly clear (Peverly), there is evidence to prove that cost is a factor that contributes to a child’s access and attendance to primary education.


1. To improve the increasing low rate of boys in secondary schools.

2. To evaluate the role of MDGs through UPEP and UNIEF in improving the standard of education in Nigeria.

3. To find out why most students opt out of   Secondary Schools.

4. To establish whether there is gender differences pertaining to enrollment in secondary schools.

5.  To establish whether there are adequate boys who are willing for enrollment in secondary schools

6.  To find out the availability of the required facilities in secondary schools and their impact on enrollment of boys students.


1. Can this study improve the increasing low rate of boys in secondary schools?

2. How is it possible to evaluate the role of MDGs through UPEP and UNIEF in improving the standard of education in Nigeria?

3. Why most students opt out of   Secondary Schools especially male ones?

4. Are there gender differences as pertaining to enrollment  in secondary schools?


H0: This study cannot improve the increasing low rate of boys in secondary schools.

H1: This study can improve the increasing low rate of boys in secondary schools.

H0: It is impossible to evaluate the role of MDGs through UPEP and UNIEF in improving the standard of education in Nigeria.

H1: It is possible to evaluate the role of MDGs through UPEP and UNIEF in improving the standard of education in Nigeria.

H0: Most students do not likely to opt out of  Secondary Schools especially male ones.

H1: Most students likely to opt out of  Secondary Schools especially male ones.

H0: There is no gender differences as pertaining to enrollment  in secondary schools.

H1: There is gender differences as pertaining to enrollment  in secondary schools.


One of the areas maginalized in education is the primary level which is the bedrock of education. This study is therefore significant in the following ways.

1.  It will help the government to develop in the entire citizenry a strong consciousness for education.

2.  It will help the society to cater for the learning needs of you persons who for one reason or the other may be interrupted.

3. It will help administration to reduce drastically the incidents of students drop-outs from the formal.

4.  It will help to ensure acquisation of the appropriate level of literacy, communicative and life skills as well as the ethical, moral and civic values needed for laying solid foundation for life long learning.

5.  It will help the government to develop the nations human resource through education as an instrument for sustainable human development as this ensures Nigeria full membership to the global world of Universal basic education scheme.



The researchers limited this work to  factor behind the increasing low enrolment of boys in primary and secondary schools and posssible solutions using Awka South L.G.A as a case study.


Despite the limited scope of this study certain constraints were encountered during the research of this project.  Some of the constraints experienced by the researcher were given below:

i.      TIME: This was a major constraint on the researcher during the period of the work. Considering the limited time given for this study, there was not much time to give this research the needed attention.

ii.     FINANCE: Owing to the financial difficulty prevalent in the country and it’s resultant prices of commodities, transportation fares, research materials etc. The researcher did not find it easy meeting all his financial obligations.

iii.    INFORMATION CONSTRAINTS: Nigerian researchers have never had it easy when it comes to obtaining necessary information relevant to their area of study from private business organization and even government agencie. Teachers in Awka South L.G.A find it difficult to reveal their internal operations. The primary information was collected through face-to-face interview getting the published materials on this topic meant going from one library to other which was not easy.

Although these problems placed limitations on the study,  but it did not prevent the researcher from carrying out a detailed and comprehensive research work on the subject matter.


UBE: UBE is seen as keeping with the expanded mission of basic education as indicated by the JointWorld Conference on Education for all (1990) and it has much wider scope and a more all-embracing coverage than UPE and any other variant of free education at all levels. Universal Basic Education was designed to ensure the attainment of dynamic and far- reaching programme in education. The scheme of UBE has been fully developed so that a critical examination of the concept, scope, and objectives could be done in a much broader and deeper manner. 



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