Public education in Niger is free and compulsory from 6 to 16 years old. The Law on the Orientation of the Nigerien education system (Nº98-12-1998) establishes a distribution of financing between the central government, local government, families and business.
Government expenditure in education was US $ 288 million in 2017, corresponding to 13.22% of total government expenditure. The school-aged population is 7.6 million , out of a total population of 21.6 million. In 2010, in rural areas, households spent 0.5% of their total expense on education1 (FCFA 2822 or US $ 5 per year), out of a total monthly expense of FCFA 47’045. Considering that total household expenditure in Niger in 2010 was US $ 4.128 billion, household expenditure on education corresponds to US $ 20.64 million, or 7.18% of public expenditure in education. Only 1.8% of schools are private, and 0.8% are community-managed2. An average household spends 24% for school fees, 50% for uniform and items, and 26% on other items3. No information was found on subsidies to private education on the Regulations of Private Education. In 2010, international cooperation allocated FCFA 13.083 billion (US $ 23 million, 8% of total education expenditure), of which 55% was included in the public education budget plan.
The education budget is part of the Economic and Social Development Plan (2017-2021), containing an overall budget for education of FCFA 36 billion for 20175. The government developed a Ten-year education development program in Niger, based on a financial simulation model for the period 2002/2015 according to the targeted objectives. The forecast for national contributions was based on assumptions regarding growth, tax levies and the share of resources devoted to basic education. On this basis, three-year phases are established, for each component (for example: quality, access etc.), including goals and financial requirements. The Ministry of Basic Education oversees the basic education sector and supervises the Regional Directorates of National Education (DREN), the Departmental Directorates of National Education (DDEN) and the Inspectorates of Basic Education (IBE). The powers of the educational administration have not yet been transferred to local governments.
The Sector Program of Education and Training (2014-2024) states that the national strategy aims to guarantee all children access basic cycle 1 (six years of full schooling), that 90% of them complete it in good quality conditions, and to promote an increased number towards the basic cycle 2 (four years of schooling)7. To guarantee access to cycle 1 of basic education, it sets out to 1) Increase supply through a classroom construction program at a rate of just over 2,000 per year during the first three years of the strategy; and 2) implement equity measures, through building alternative rural schools, guaranteeing multiple shifts, fighting teacher absenteeism and other initiatives.
The Ministry in charge of Basic Education has increased of the number of school canteens, and distributed dry rations to female pupils (2017)8, with the support of international organizations. School feeding program coverage in Niger reaches 168 000 students, corresponding to 2% of the school-aged population.
The government received a US $ 84.2 million grant by the Global Partnership for Education for the 2014-2018 period, to conduct a project with the objective to improve access to schooling, retention of students in school, and improving the quality of the teaching and learning environment at the basic education level.
This component (US$6 million, or 2% of education expenditure) aims at reducing gender disparities in access to education by supporting incentives to promote girls’ enrollment in both primary and lower secondary education in targeted areas, including awareness activities and a girls' tutoring program. It is anticipated that 51,500 girls (0.7% of school-aged population) will benefit from this sub-component and that access and retention for girls will improve in the targeted areas.
This component (US$9.0 million, or 3% of the education expenditure) aims at stimulating demand for and retention in school, reducing the prevalence of nutritional deficiencies and support student health by promoting good nutrition practices and school hygiene and providing food, in primary schools. Priority will be given to areas where the enrollment rates are the lowest (mainly in the poorest regions and in rural areas, which coincides with those areas where girls’ attendance is the lowest).
One of the components is improving Education infrastructure (US$40 million, or 14% of education expenditure). This component aims to extend basic education to about 75,000 additional children (1% of school-aged population) of which at least 70 percent will come from the rural areas. It will involve building about 1,245 primary school classrooms, and build 150 classrooms as Alternative Rural Schools (smaller multigrade facilities better adapted to the most remote areas).
The Access Component of Ten-year Education Development Program sought to support 2160 girls’ mothers to develop income- generating activities (FCFA 263 million in 2011, US $ 480,000, corresponding to 0.17% of total education expenditure), and awards for girls with high academic achievement in 24 target areas (FCFA 34.7 million, US $ 63,000, corresponding to 0.02% of total education expenditure).
Out-of-school children and girls’
The government of Niger was granted US $ 6 million (corresponding to 2.09% of total education expenditure) of the US$ 85 million received for the 2014-2018 period through GPE to promote girls’ schooling through awareness activities, a girls' tutoring program and Girls’ Education Grants.
Niger’s Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (2012-2015) has a pillar on the promotion of social development, that includes health and education. The paper includes a section on the National Program of Social Safety Nets. The 2019-2024 extension of the program received a grant by the World Bank of US $ 80 million (US $ 16 million per year on average, 0.17% of GDP). The project’s objective is to establish and support an effective safety net which will increase access of poor and food insecure people to cash transfer and cash for work programs. The project reached 1 million beneficiaries (4.63% of the total population) in 8 regions of Niger, and provided cash transfers in support of poor and chronically food-insecure households alongside accompanying measures for parents to promote investment in children’s health and education.