It’s saddening that despite various advancements in the world in terms of technology, education and other developments, we still have to talk about girl-child education, in respect to how it is not valued especially in a country like Nigeria.
According to UNESCO, 130 million girls between the age of 6 and 17 are out of school and 15 million girls of primary school age—half of them in sub-Saharan Africa— will never enter a classroom. This shows how careless we are in handling the education of a girl-child.
There are various problems faced in educating a girl-child, ranging from cultural practices, early marriage, poverty, illiteracy, lack of learning facilities, etc.
There are some cultural practices that do not support girl-child education. Taking the Northern Nigeria as case study, it is believed that female education is a waste of money as the girl-child will eventually get married and move to her husband’s house, making him (the husband) benefit all the spendings on the girl in terms of education.
The belief that the male gender is superior to the female, there by not giving them equal opportunities has also been a great hindrance to girl-child education.
The issue of early marriage, especially in Northern Nigeria is also to be worried about. Young girls who are supposed to go to school are denied such opportunity by getting them married at tender ages. Since it’s almost impossible for a girl who’s married at a very young age to enroll in school due to commitments attached to marriage, then early marriage poses a threat to girl-child education.
Illiteracy has for years been a threat to girl-child education. Uneducated parents who do not have an idea of how important education is may not be willing to have their children educated, let alone a girl-child. Some parents, due to their ignorance, do not even see any reason why a girl-child should be educated.
Poverty has also contributed to the inability of parents to enrol a girl-child in school. Parents who find it difficult fending for the family may consider education impossible for the children. If they must ensure the children are educated, they always prefer to educate the male child. This also boils down to the belief in gender superiority.
It is important to have a girl-child educated for reasons like breeding educated generations, decreased child marriage, decreased maternal mortality and improved socioeconomic growth.
It is no doubt that in years to come, illiterates may find it difficult to thrive as the world keeps witnessing various developments. Educating a girl-child will also add to literacy rate in the world.
When a girl-child is enrolled in school, there will be little or no room for child marriage as the education of the child would be the priority rather than giving her out in marriage at tender age.
Girl-child education may mean decrease in maternal mortality rate. A woman who is educated may survive child delivery without any complications since she will be interested in different safety measures such as antenatal to be taken for an itch free delivery. Various health measures will also be prioritized by an educated woman more than an uneducated one.
Educating a girl-child will go a long way in contributing to socioeconomic growth. Since women are more closer to the children than men, an educated mother will be able to guide her children to the right path. Women are known to be productive in what they do. This means an educated woman will no doubt contribute to economic development.
In ending the problems faced by girl-child education, the following measures need to be considered:
Goverment should ensure that schools are provided closer to a girl-child. Lack of schools closer to a neighbourhood may discourage the parents from sending their girl-child to school for safety reasons.
The safety of a girl-child should be ensured at school. There should be neither threat nor intimidation whatsoever from either the teachers or the male students.
Teachers who are to teach a girl-child should be trained on handling their job. Teachers who are to teach the girl-child should be preferably female as they (the female teachers)/will serve as role model to them (girl-child).
A girl-child shouldn’t be overwhelmed with house chores. Parents should understand that just like the male child, the female child needs to study after school too in order to avoid poor performances at school.
The government should provide free access to education as a way of encouraging girl-child education. Some parents may be willing to send a girl-child to school but due to their financial inability, they are left with the choice of making her hawk for livelihood.