Girl-child education is a matter of great concern to stakeholders in Nigeria. A typical Nigerian society (traditional), there exists the degenerate believe that women are second class citizens(Enjerer,1991). A woman is considered as a man’s property or pleasure object. She is also considered as a ‘baby factory’ or ‘machine’ meant for producing children. This situation has resulted in unfair treatment of women especially with regards to education.
The average rural Nigerian parent would rather invest in the education of the son rather than the daughter (Ada, 1992). Enejere (1991) further averts that gender inequality in Nigeria is promoted by religious and communal customs.
Today, the girl child education is becoming a major part of discourses in academic and political spheres every stakeholder are always bringing up issues relating to girl-child education to the public’s attention. People everywhere-mostly women are watching the debate unfurl with keen interest. Will there ever be a day in Nigeria where the girl child will be as privileged as the boy child in respect to the freedom to pursue their academic aspirations? I can’t tell!
Truthfully, the answers to these questions are best kept inside because while we keep advocating for free and compulsory education for the Nigeria girl child irrespective of tribe or religion, some people kick against the idea and their reason seem sane. In this article, were are going to discuss the important of the girl-child education.
The Nigerian constitution clearly stipulates that every child, boy or girl, has the right to education. it also stipulate a free and compulsory education for children between the ages 6 through 15 years. Nevertheless, we are aware in 2008, approximately 10.1 million children were out-of-school in the basic education system. This excludes the number of those that were out of secondary school in the same year.
Despite being one of the leading economies in Africa Nigeria has more girls out of school than any other country. Girls complete an average 6.7 years of schooling compared with an overall average of 7.85 years. The poorest girls only complete an average of 11 years (CSACEFA). In 2015, 32% of 15-23 year-old girls lacked basic literacy skills compared with 23% of boys the same age.
Girls’ education is one most effective ways for ending poverty in developing countries like Nigeria. The benefits of their education are seen by individuals, families, and the society. These gains includes reducing the number of babies women have; Lowering infant and child mortality rates; Lower maternal mortality rates; Protecting against HIV/AIDS infection; Increased number of women with jobs and higher earnings; Benefits the last many generations.
Cases of early marriages and teenage pregnancy can be averted because of girl-child education. instead of a girl getting married before age 20 and often suffering abuse by her husband, girls who are educated are more likely to have a say in who they marry. Girls who attend school also are able to use more effective methods of family planning and therefore have fewer and healthier babies. An educated girl and woman will have learned about HIV/AIDS and many different ways to protect herself from getting the disease. Every year of schooling helps a girl make better decisions for her and her family.
Educated women often have healthier families. These women are more likely to seek medical attention from clinics or doctors because the can read, literate women can understand a doctor’s detailed instructions and follow up for help if needed. These women also can read nutritional labels and provide their family healthy meals that promotes growth and lower cholesterol. Education also teaches young girls the importance of keeping herself and her house clean and safe.
As their families are healthier, so is the mother. She is less likely to be a young mother since she stayed in school and will have better spaced pregnancies that are healthy for her body. Education is important; the World Bank determined that each year of school prevents two (2) maternal deaths out of 1000 women each year!
According to the Nigerian Universal Basic Education Act, every child should receive nine years of free education. but Act does not cover the final three years of secondary education (High School) students need to thrive- and build a better future for their families, communities, and country.
Furthermore, indirect cost and unofficial fees keep many girls from completing the first nine years of school, making a costly secondary education even more unattainable. The Nigerian government has endorsed Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 on Education to ensure all girls and boys complete free equitable and quality primary and secondary education by 2030. if the promise of the SDG’s is to be realized drastic and sustained action is needed to tackle the largest national out-of-school population in the world.
Empowering Women for Excellence Initiative (EWEI) in collaboration with the Civil Society Action Coalition on Education for All (CSACEFA) and Center for Girls’ Education (CGE) are advocating for the following policy changes and funding increases in Nigeria in order for the country to meet SDG 4. EWEI recently conducted a survey on the enrollment, retention, and completion of the girl-child education with over 12 secondary to also meet the sustainable development goal 4 on education to advocate for the following:
Expand the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) mandate to include 12 years of free, safe and quality education with special attention to target most marginalized girls Remove hidden cost in education in line with the Universal Basic Education Act. Allocate at least 20% of the national budget and 6% of GDP to education Adopt and enforce the ChildRightsAct to end early and forced marriage on at all levels, local, state and national. Create safe teaching and learningenvironmentforgirls, especially in the North East zone.
In conclusion, if Nigeria were to give all girls a full 12 years of school, the outcomes would include; economic growth, improved health, knowledge of HIV/STDs, and fewer child marriage. Therefore it is a call for action to all stakeholders in Nigeria to advocate for 12 years free and compulsory education for the girl-child.