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8 former female Ministers of education in Nigeria

The impact of women in changing the landscape of education in Nigeria cannot be left out, most, especially in the area of leadership, policymaking, and innovation in the development of education in Nigeria.
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The impact of women in changing the landscape of education in Nigeria cannot be left out, most, especially in the area of leadership, policymaking, and innovation in the development of education in Nigeria. From attaining the role of a headmistress to a principal, down to being a vice chancellor and becoming the minister of education, women’s inclusion in the development of the education sector is significant. Here is a list of women who have one or the other served as the minister of education in Nigeria.

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Elizabeth Ivase (1979 to 1982):

Mrs Elizabeth Iyase served as the minister of education in the second republic. She is a trailblazer whose outstanding performance created a desire in many girl children to take education seriously. Mrs Elizabeth provided mentorship to the younger generation while championing girl child education and women’s rights in general. She is a Tiv woman with many firsts few of which include being the first woman from Benue State to be appointed a Civil Commissioner: Oct. 1979 – Jan. 1982 and The first woman from the Northern States and Benue in particular to be appointed a Minister of State of the Federal Republic of Nigeria: Feb. 1982 – Sept. 1983.

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Iyabo Anisulowo (February 1997 to December 1997):

Mrs. Iyabo is an educator and proponent of gender equality in Africa. She started as a classroom teacher and rose to the rank of an education minister. She served as the minister of state for education during the regime of the late Sani Abacha. Furthermore, she later became a senator representing Ogun West Senatorial District. Furthermore, she is also a former governorship candidate in Ogun State.

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Hajia Bintu Musa (July 2003 to June 2005:

Hajia Bintu served as the minister of state for education. During her tenure, she worked on the federal government’s commitment to proper funding of education in the country. She made sure that enough budget was allocated to education and also ensured the budgets allocated were spent appropriately.

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Professor Chinwe Obaji (2005-2006):

Professor Chinwe Obaji served as Nigeria’s first female Minister of Education from 2005 to 2006. She graduated from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. She is a teacher, higher education lecturer and minister of education. During her tenure as the minister of education, she made a significant impact on educational policy and reform. Prof. Chinwe is a distinguished academic and researcher. Her main objective is to prioritize the increase in access to education, especially for marginalized populations such as girls and children in rural areas of Nigeria. While in office, Prof. Chinwe championed initiatives to improve the quality of teaching and learning, including the recruitment and training of qualified teachers and the provision of instructional materials and infrastructure.

Obaji’s tenure was marked by a commitment to equity, excellence, and inclusivity in education, leaving a lasting impact on the educational landscape of Nigeria. She resuscitated the Inspectorate Division of the Federal Ministry of Education. She also started a project named “one-meal-a-day project” in some pilot primary schools across the country. With this project, the selected primary school students were given free lunches daily.

She also brought up the initiative that Universities should conduct the Post University Matriculation Examination for candidate students to assess the candidates better and fish out any inadequacy by the Joint Admission Matriculation Board (JAMB). Prof. Obaji also added that no institution must charge above #1,000 for the examination. In 2006. She also brought up a reform to ensure that every child must at least have access to basic education.

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Dr. Grace Ogwuche (2006):

She served as the minister of state for education. Ogwuche was the second female minister from Benue State after Elizabeth Ivase and the first from Idoma land. She also served in other capacities in the Federal government such as Ministry of Inter-Governmental Affairs, Youth Development and Special Duties, Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources as well as Education.

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Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili (2006):

Born on April 28, 1963, Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili served briefly as Nigeria’s Minister of Education in 2006. She was the minister of education until she took up a World Bank appointment in May 2007. During her time as the minister, she initiated bold reforms aimed at addressing corruption and inefficiency in the educational sector. While in government, Ezekwesili led the restructuring and refocusing of the Education Ministry for the attainment of Education for All (EFA) targets and Millennium Development Goals. Mrs. Ezekwesili also revamped the Federal Inspectorate Service as an improved quality assurance mechanism and introduced public-private partnerships for education service delivery. As a respected economist and advocate for transparency and accountability, Ezekwesili prioritized the fight against corruption in education, implementing measures to improve governance and accountability in the management of educational resources. Although her tenure was short-lived, Ezekwesili’s commitment to integrity and good governance left a lasting impression on the educational sector and set the stage for more future reforms.

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Aishatu Jibril Dukku, minister of education (2007-2010)

Aishatu Jibril Dukku is an educationist born on 18 December 1963. She started her journey as a classroom teacher in 1987. Her journey to leadership in the education system started when she became the former Principal of Federal Government Girl’s College, Bajoga, Gombe State. She attained many other leadership positions in the education sector before she became the Federal Minister of State for Education during the presidency of the late Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua.

During her tenure as the minister of education, she built and donated primary schools to many communities including three nomadic primary schools (two in Bauchi state and one in Gombe). Not only did she make her impact while in office as the minister of education, but she also showed her versatility by attaining other roles. She worked as a legislator for Dukku/Nafada Federal Constituency where she showed interest in girl child education, poverty alleviation and skills acquisition, and women and youth empowerment.

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Professor Ruqayyatu Ahmed Rufa’i (2010-2014):

Professor Ruqayyatu Ahmed Rufa’i served as Nigeria’s Minister of Education from 2010 to 2014 under the leadership of President Goodluck Jonathan. She attended Bayero University Kano where she obtained a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree. Due to her love for education, she got a PhD in Education from West Virginia University, US. With a background in education and development studies, Rufa’i during her time as the minister of education focused on addressing challenges such as low literacy rates, inadequate infrastructure, and disparities in access to education. She also oversaw reforms and initiatives aimed at revitalizing the country’s educational system. She once served as the Commissioner for Education in Jigawa state in 2003. Prof. Ruqayyatu also spearheaded efforts to improve teacher quality, expand access to educational opportunities, and promote innovation and entrepreneurship in education. Rufa’i’s tenure was marked by a commitment to transforming Nigeria’s educational system to meet the demands of the 21st century just like other developed countries.

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