In any society, education is the process of acquiring skills and knowledge which will help citizens to know their rights and perform their civic duties. It is a process of transmitting values, cultures and morals from one generation to the other. Education is a right that should be given to all human beings, in fact, all Nigeria without preferential treatment. Education is important at all levels of life and the Constitution establishes same, in Chapter II Section 18 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (As Amended).There is however no doubt that the depression and neglect that girl children have suffered in this part of the world where they are regarded as second class citizens in many ways, including their choices of disciplines in schools, is not part of our constitutional provisions. The population of educated girls and women in Nigeria is below the population of educated boys and men and this has not reflected the constitutional stipulation, hence the necessity for a clarion on the government and our society to address girl child education.
The society considers girl child education irrelevant. Females or women are not often seen to have any economic benefits. Their eventual destinations are restricted kitchens, domestic chores, buying and selling in markets, mothering, etc. A girl is the dawn, the bedrock and future of any nation or society aspiring for sustainable development. If she continues to be the subject of rejection, marginalisation and deprivation, the posterity of the society would be in shambles. This buttressed by the case of Malala Yousafzai from Pakistan, a girl child education advocate who has attracted attention from Africa and beyond. Malala defied all odds to speak out on girl child education even when her life was threatened, at least to rescue girls from educational inequality. Malala, in an interview with Emma Watson, an actor and UN Women Global Goodwill Ambassador, said: “While basic education begins to unlock potentials in a girl child, it is secondary education that provides the wings that allow girls to fly.” She added that she considers herself very lucky to be on a platform where she can be a voice of over 60 million girls who are deprived of education. For her, education for girls is one of the surest things to make them achieve their set goals.
In Nigeria, as earlier stated, the constitution clearly stipulates that every child, boy or girl has the right to education. The constitution even requires free and compulsory education for children between the ages of 6 through 15. Nonetheless, we are aware that there are over 10 millon children who are not in school and are not receiving any form of training to help them better their lots in life. Out of these 10 million children, the girl child constitutes a sizeable chunk. This undermines the roles a woman plays in the family and the society at large. With this constitutional prerequisite, the Nigerian government must rise from slumber to redress this malaise that has weakened our overall development. It is disheartening to note that in most communities in Nigeria today, especially in the North, many girls do not have adequate education after a certain age. When a girl child is 12-14years old, the elders in the community feel she is ‘ripe for marriage’ and their words stand. So what are the words of a girl child worth when the elders of the community have spoken? A girl who is given out in marriage at a very tender age is placed at a very high risk. She is not mature enough to be a mother, without any skill, information and confidence that might lead her to being a better mother and wife if she were educated.
Sarcastically, President Muhammadu Buhari made a statement at a BBC press conference in Germany about his wife, Aisha Buhari. His statement seems to confirm the saying that a woman’s place in the house is her husband’s kitchen, as he said: “I don’t want know which party my wife belongs to but she belongs to my kitchen and my living room and the other room.” One would ask what happens to the boardrooms, political meetings and conferences. Are women not supposed to be participating there too? Before now, at the beginning of colonialism, rigid ideas on gender were imposed on the African mind. The woman’s roles were s3xual and commercial labours: working in the fields, carrying loads, tending to babies and preparing food. How can a girl who is not up to 18 years old be able to execute all these duties and look after her so-called family? In the process of giving birth, she could become exposed to certain viral infections and even lose her life. Yet, “when you educate a man, you educate one, but when you educate a woman, you educate a nation”. This assertion is valid because the education of every child starts from the family and the mother is the first teacher. Therefore, educating the girl child translates to better health for future generations, reduction in child morbidity and motility, thus triggering the achievement of all other Sustainable Development Goals.
The girl child needs to acquire knowledge and skills in order to advance her status for social interactions and self improvement. Education prepares her to face the realities in the society and teaches her to be a good wife and mother. When she is educated, she realises the full potentials endowed in her; she becomes whoever and whatever she wants to be. With education, she would break the shell of ignorance and open that of self-discovery. In Nigeria today, there are women lawyers, engineers, doctors, journalist, politicians, etc. We have vibrant and outstanding women like Prof. Rukayyatu Rufai, former Minister for Education; Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former Minister for Finance; Senator Aisha Alhassan (Mama Taraba), a politician who gave her male counterpart a run for their money in the 2015 gubernatorial election in Taraba State; the renowned author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, among others. This confirms the saying that “what a man can do, a woman can do better”. With these historic examples, educating the girl child is crucial to ensuring social, political and economic development.
- Abdulwahab is a student of Bayero University, Kano
In any society, education is the process of acquiring skills and knowledge which will help citizens to know their rights and perform their civic duties. It is a process of transmitting values, cultures and morals [...]Read Full Story