Co-director, Centre for Girls’ Education (CGE)
Champion since 2017
“Without education, we cannot achieve good health, a prosperous economy or safe communities. Investing in education — and girls’ education in particular — is key for every country in Africa.”
Providing girls with safe spaces to learn and advocating for laws that guarantee every girl 12 years of education
Low-quality education prevents girls in northern Nigeria from reaching their full potential. Families believe it is a waste to send girls to school if they aren’t learning, so they often choose to marry their daughters off instead of continuing their education.
On a national level, Nigeria’s Universal Basic Education (UBE) Act provides for just nine years of free education, preventing girls across the country from completing secondary school.
Girl Activist Training
After teaching in a government school in northern Nigeria for 16 years, Habiba joined the Centre for Girls’ Education (CGE) to help girls in rural and low-income communities learn. With her Malala Fund grant, Habiba and CGE hold safe space clubs for girls in Kaduna state to teach them literacy, numeracy and life skills. CGE staff mentor girls so that they can speak out against the issues they face, such as getting married before they’re ready. The organisation also helps their students enrol in formal education and provides them with scholarships.
With the Nigerian chapter of the Malala Fund Education Champion Network, Habiba also meets with government officials to encourage them to pass an amendment to the UBE Act that would extend the free, compulsory education provision from nine years to 12 years and improve states’ access to UBE funds.
In 2017, as a result of Habiba’s advocacy with the other Nigerian Education Champions, the 8th Senate passed the amendment to the UBE Act, which would guarantee every child in Nigeria the right to 12 years of education. The Nigerian Education Champion chapter is currently working to ensure the House of Representatives passes the amendment as well. Habiba’s advocacy efforts with the chapter also led to the implementation of the Child Rights Act in Kaduna state in 2018. This law guarantees all children in Kaduna the right to free, quality basic education and prevents marriage under the age of 18.
With her Malala Fund grant, Habiba provided 418 out-of-school girls with classes at the safe space clubs in 2019. 86% of her students then enrolled in full-time public school. As a result of her success, Habiba is now expanding her safe space clubs in Nigeria and replicating the model at a girls' centre in Niger.