Improving teaching quality in conflict-affected North-east Nigeria
July 19, 2023 by GPE Secretariat, and UNICEF Nigeria |
5 minutes read

A GPE-funded program helped increase the number of trained teachers and improve learning outcomes for children in conflict-affected North-eastern states of Nigeria.

Credit: UNICEF/2023/Adebayo
“I have been teaching for 9 years without the minimum level of qualification required. I had financial challenges and could not register for further courses to improve on my qualification. I was stuck on that level for years, and it remained a source of worry for me.”
Ezekiel Jacob
Primary school teacher, Adamawa State

Ezekiel teaches at Nassarawo Primary School in Adamawa State, located in North-east Nigeria where only 1 in 3 schools have teachers with the minimum level teaching qualification. Of the many challenges facing the region’s education sector, low teaching quality strains access to education and learning.

Increasing the number of certified teachers and improving the quality of teaching were critical components of the recently concluded GPE accelerated funding grant for Nigeria. This US$20 million grant for 2020-2023, with UNICEF as the grant agent, has supported Nigeria to address poor education access, low school participation and completion rates, the high proportion of out-of-school children as well as poor learning outcomes in the Borno, Adamawa and Yobe (BAY) states.

Civil armed conflict has impacted North-east Nigeria since 2009. States within the region, primarily the BAY states, have experienced attacks by non-state armed groups and inter-communal clashes that have weakened the delivery of basic social services. The education sector has not been spared: between 2009 and 2020, 400 schools were damaged, more than 1 million children were forced out of school and 2,295 teachers were killed.

The government of Nigeria has prioritized investing in the teaching profession as teacher effectiveness has been found to be an important predictor of student learning. A tailored training and qualification program not only ensures teachers have the minimum requirements, but also equips them to deliver education that meets the needs of conflict-affected children who might need remedial education and/or psycho-social support.

The GPE grant, along with other interventions supported by the Education in Emergencies Working Group for North-east Nigeria, are supporting the government to meet its objectives for teacher quality and effectiveness.

Teacher professional development

Credit: UNICEF/2023/Adebayo
“This program was aimed at improving equality in access with a focus on fundamental and transferrable skills. It will reduce the number of out-of-school children and establish a robust teacher recruitment system. It is interesting to note that the positive impact of this training is already manifesting. I am sure that the learning outcomes in these states will improve.”
Prof. Musa Garba Maitafsir
Director General, National Teachers’ Institute

In 2021, the government of Nigeria directed GPE funding toward a teacher training program for the 18,360 teachers in need of minimum level qualifications. The program has been since delivered across training centers in the BAY states through collaboration between the Federal Ministry of Education, the Teachers’ Registration Council of Nigeria and the National Teachers’ Institute.

The minimum teaching qualification in Nigeria is the Nigeria Certificate in Education (NCE), and a teacher pursuing graduate-level training obtains a Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE). Teachers attending the PGDE and Special Teacher Upgrading Program graduated in May 2022. Teachers taking the NCE graduated in December 2022.

Having completed the training and passed the qualifying examinations, Ezekiel notes how his teaching approach has been greatly impacted:

Ezekiel Jacob
“Now I am able to understand learners and support them. For instance, I now recognized that not every child in a classroom will learn at the same pace. A class will normally have fast learners, slow learners and average learners. I have been equipped with the knowledge and capacity to teach all children with the right materials.”
Ezekiel Jacob
Primary school teacher, Adamawa State, Nigeria

Teaching at the right level

In addition to improving teacher qualifications, GPE funding has been used to strengthen children’s foundational literacy and numeracy skills with an additional training program for the approach ‘teaching at the right level.’ The success of this strategy is that rather than grouping children by age or grade, teaching starts at the child’s learning level.

Through a partnership with Teaching at the Right Level (TaRL) Africa, the program has provided over 3,600 teachers with professional development and mentoring to deliver remedial education to children in grades 4-6. As a result, 176,000 students from 386 schools have strengthened their foundational learning skills.

A TaRL assessment tool helped teachers determine what their students know in their local language (Hausa or Kanuri, in Borno State only), English language and mathematics. Students are then grouped according to 1 of 5 learning levels. Thanks to the data provided by the assessment tool and learning groups, teachers were able to plan lessons and activities to match their students’ learning needs.

A student participates in a Teaching at the Right Level class during a baseline assessment. Yobe State, Nigeria.

Baseline, mid-point and end-point assessments were conducted in all 386 schools, with students showing significant learning gains across the school year. At baseline, 54% of students were ‘beginners’ in the English language, meaning they could not identify all letters of the alphabet; 28% of students were beginners in mathematics, meaning they could not identify a one-digit number.

At the endpoint assessment, only 7% were still considered beginners in English and 3% in mathematics. In other words, 47% of students progressed to another learning level in the English language, and 25% progressed to another learning level in mathematics after participating in program sessions for 9 months.

These promising results have led TaRL Africa, UNICEF and BAY states to advocate for the investment of resources to sustain the program as well as scale it up to reach more children in grades 4-6.

Access to safe and protective learning environments

Credit: UNICEF/2023/Adebayo
“I am happy to be among the recipients of the learning materials because I have never owned a school bag. I had just one book my father bought for me. It gets torn easily and sometimes gets missing. The school bag will help to keep my books safe and clean.”
14-year-old Isa Isubu
Central Junior Day Secondary School, Buni Yadi

While making improvements to the quality of teaching, implementation of the GPE grant in these BAY state communities has also increased access to education for children who are internally displaced, from poor families in host communities, girls and out-of-school:

  • 50 temporary learning spaces have been constructed.
  • 50 schools were rehabilitated or reconstructed.
  • 50 host schools were equipped with WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) facilities.
  • Inclusive and gender-sensitive state-wide enrollment campaigns brought over 890,800 children to school in the 2021/2022 school year.
  • Basic learning materials, including school bags, pencils, pens, exercise books, rulers and erasers were procured for 509,200 children.
A block of two temporary learning spaces were constructed in Munga Primary School. Adamawa State, Nigeria. Credit: UNICEF/2022/BABAJIDE
A block of two temporary learning spaces were constructed in Munga Primary School. Adamawa State, Nigeria.
A block of WASH facilities with six compartments of latrines were constructed in Ajire Primary School Fufore. Adamawa State, Nigeria. Credit: UNICEF/2022/BABAJIDE
A block of WASH facilities with six compartments of latrines were constructed in Ajire Primary School Fufore. Adamawa State, Nigeria.
Teachers participate in a psycho-social support training activity in Kamsulum Primary School. Borno State, Nigeria. Credit: UNICEF/2021/SULEIMAN
Teachers participate in a psycho-social support training activity in Kamsulum Primary School. Borno State, Nigeria.

With GPE funding, UNICEF facilitated the training of over 3,880 teachers to provide psycho-social support to conflict-affected children. Specifically, teachers acquired the necessary skills to help children enhance their mental well-being. Almost 176,000 students have benefitted from this support.

The conflict in North-east Nigeria has had a significant impact on education in the region. While much remains to be done, improvements in the quality of teaching and learning are a positive development and offer a model of effective coordination between education partners and the commitment of both national and local governments.

Sub-Saharan Africa: Nigeria

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