The World Bank has approved a fresh $700m loan for Nigeria to enhance adolescent girls’ learning and empowerment.

It disclosed this in a statement published on its website on Friday.

The new loan is to provide additional funds for an ongoing project known as the Adolescent Girls Initiative for Learning and Empowerment.

The statement read, “The World Bank approved additional financing of $700m for Nigeria to scale up the Adolescent Girls Initiative for Learning and Empowerment programme whose goal is to improve secondary education opportunities among girls in targeted states.

“The additional financing will scale up project activities from the current seven states to eleven additional states and increase the targeted beneficiaries to include out-of-school girls, those who are married, and those who have disabilities.”

It was noted that Nigeria had over 12 million to 15 million out of school children in the school- age group, with many of them in Northern Nigeria.

It was also noted that an estimated one million children were affected by increased insecurity around schools in 2020-2021.

The statement added, “In the seven AGILE programme implementing states – Borno, Ekiti, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, and Plateau – the number of girls in secondary schools has increased from about 900,000 to over 1.6 million.

“Under the programme, over 5,000 classrooms have been renovated and over 250,000 eligible girls have received scholarships.

“The AGILE programme has supported construction and rehabilitation of WASH facilities in secondary schools and the installation of computers and solar panels which make attending school more convenient and conducive for both girls and boys. Life skills, systems strengthening, and advocacy are other key aspects of the program which address social norms impeding girls’ education.”

The World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri, stated that, “Closing the gender gaps in economic empowerment by ensuring girls have access to education and skills is key for Nigeria’s development and economic prosperity.

“Nigeria’s working population will soon be one of the youngest and largest around the world, which means that investing in adolescent girls is imperative when addressing overall economic prospects and growth.”

The statement noted that aside from the girls that would benefit from the financing, others included over 15 million students and beneficiaries, such as teachers, administrators, families, communities, and staff in existing and newly constructed schools.

It added that the new fund would push the project to 18 states and help Nigeria to achieve better education and health outcomes for girls.

Earlier, The PUNCH reported that the parents and caregivers of about 300,000 poor female students got N10,000 per term in six states as incentives for schooling.

The six states were Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Sokoto, Kebbi and Plateau, and the funding was provided through the Adolescent Girls Initiative for Learning and Empowerment Programme.

The World Bank noted that the N10,000 per term was provided to the parents of poor female students for school attendance and re-enrollment.

It was also disclosed that N5,000 was given to each girl’s parent upon registration in the program.

The PUNCH also observed that this was the third loan facility approved under the administration of Bola Tinubu.

The first was approved on June 9, 2023, with a loan of $750m to boost Nigeria’s power sector.

The second was a loan of $500m to help Nigeria drive women’s empowerment, and was approved on June 22, 2023.

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