The European Journal of Development Research

, Volume 30, Issue 5, pp 789–808 | Cite as

Skills Development and International Development Agenda Setting: Lessons from an Intervention in Northern Nigeria

  • Masooda BanoEmail author
Original Article


Skills development remains on the international development agenda but fails to get adequate attention. Based on prolonged fieldwork with a particularly marginalised community of children and young adults in the northern Nigerian state of Kano, this article shows how in contexts of extreme poverty the demand for skills training can supersede that for basic education. Further, by drawing on results of a six-month-long skill-training intervention, the article documents the scope for increased experimentation in the delivery of low-cost community-based skill-training programmes and identifies factors that influence programme completion. It also demonstrates that participation in skill-training programmes can dramatically increase entrepreneurial aspirations among marginalised youth, but that without access to credit most fail to pursue their aspirations. Below certain poverty thresholds, the dire resource constraints make change in aspirations an unreliable predictor of possible improvement in future outcomes.


skills development non-formal primary education marginalised youth micro-credit aspirations, northern Nigeria 

Le développement des compétences reste à l’ordre du jour du développement international, mais ne parvient pas à obtenir une attention adéquate. Basé sur des travaux de terrain prolongés avec une communauté particulièrement marginalisée d’enfants et de jeunes adultes dans l’état de Kano au nord du Nigéria, cet article montre comment, dans les contextes d’extrême pauvreté, la demande en formation professionnelle peut supplanter celle pour l’éducation de base. En outre, en s’appuyant sur les résultats d’une intervention de formation professionnelle d’une durée de six mois, l’article documente la possibilité d’une expérimentation accrue dans la mise en œuvre de programmes de formation professionnelle à base communautaire et à faibles coûts, et identifie les facteurs qui influent sur l’achèvement du programme. Il démontre également que la participation à des programmes de formation professionnelle peut considérablement accroître les aspirations entrepreneuriales des jeunes marginalisés, mais que sans l’accès au crédit, la plupart ne parviennent pas à poursuivre leurs aspirations. En deçà de certains seuils de pauvreté, les terribles contraintes de ressources font du changement dans les aspirations un prédicteur peu fiable de l’amélioration éventuelle des résultats futurs.



I will like to thank Andy Hinsley from DFID for approving this non-formal skills training intervention and Jake Ross and Ron Tuck from Cambridge Education for overseeing its implementation. Continued discussions with all three greatly helped refine the analysis.


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Copyright information

© European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Oxford Department of International DevelopmentOxfordUK

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