Due to its large and overwhelmingly young population, Nigeria is characterised as having the world’s greatest out of school population, which is estimated to be 10.5 million (UIS, 2017). While this is due to a variety of socio-cultural and economic factors, the inaccessibility of educational facilities is often flagged as a key issue. Research has shown that the main contributing factors to primary school absenteeism in North West Nigeria include low levels of parental education, gender inequality, low incomes, perceived teacher performance, and prohibitive distances to schools (Shehu, 2018). The effect of distance is further highlighted by Kazeem et al., who note that living 20 or more minutes away from a school reduces the odds of attendance by 52% (2010).
Nigeria’s Universal Basic Educational Commission (UBEC) has established a range of policies that aim to address the issues of school absenteeism, as identified in the “Minimum Standards for Basic Education in Nigeria” (UBEC, 2010). As per these standards, no student should have to travel more than two kilometres to the nearest school.
Over the past decade, the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to analyse access to education in Nigeria has become increasingly popular. In 2014, a GIS analysis was conducted to determine the school-age population’s travel distance to secondary schools in Ogun State (Ogunyemi et al, 2014). However, there is currently no research that applies geospatial data to pinpoint where new schools should be constructed in the country.
GRID3 Nigeria aimed to bridge this gap by demonstrating where new schools should be strategically built to improve access to education, while at the same time strengthening UBEC’s geospatial capacity to perform such analyses.