Education is a fundamental human rights. It is key to
development of both individuals and the nation. It is, therefore, a right that should be given to all human beings, especially the girl-child.
Girl-child education is particularly important and recognized by all charters. It is a form of education that aims at improving the knowledge and skills of girls. It includes general education in schools and colleges, vocational and technical education, professional education, health education etc. Girl-child education encompasses both literary and non-literary education.
Nigeria is signatory to the major conventions for the protection of the rights of children and women, especially the convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
Girl child education falls under goals two and three of the millennium development goals enshrined under UN’s resolution in 1996, and which Nigeria is a member nation. Unfortunately, it has received worst treatment as a result of the lackadaisical/ nonchalant attitude of Nigerians leaders.
According to UNESCO report, about 90 million children are not in school and majority of them are girls who do not have access to education despite the fact that it is their rights.
Research has shown that millions of girls do not have access to schools despite the concerted efforts by some global bodies to promote girl-child education. It has, however, been established by researchers that improving female education is crucial for national development.
Education is said to be a great leveler. Illiteracy on the other hand, is one of the strongest contributing factors to poverty. Investment in girl-child education is therefore an investment in the future of an individual and the society at large. This is because both the individual and the society stand to benefit from it.
Across the globe, women are under represented in government and are discriminated against in electoral contest. This is because of the belief that there are more qualified and more educated men than women.
A girl-child who is educated is less likely to contract HIV. This is because education has a direct and proven impact on the sexual and reproductive health of a child.
Women with formal education are also likely to use reliable family planning methods, and have healthier babies than women with no formal education. Girl’s education ranks among the most powerful tools for reducing girls vulnerability to diseases and other dangers. It empowers a woman’s wallet, boosting her earnings capabilities through good job and creativity.
Women with some formal education are move likely to seek medical care, ensure their children are immunized, better informed about their children’s nutritional requirements and adopt improved sanitation practices. As a result, their infants and children have higher survival rates and tend to be healthier and better nourished. Also, when a girl child is educated, she tends to know better about reproductive issues and also seek pre-and post natal care.
The education of a mother is a significant variable that can affects children’s education attainment and opportunities. Research has shown that an educated mother would want to send her children to school. Whereas, illiterate mother sees her daughters as tools for generating incomes to sustain the family. She engages them in hawkings and other undignified jobs instead of sending them to school at their tender age. In Nigeria, many girls are often seen moving around in towns and villages hawking items of little value that hardly justify the hours spent under rain and sun. They usually become vulnerable to harassment from men. But an educated woman has self-confidence, skills as well as intelligence to understand the need to be a better daughter, sister, wife and mother and make a progressive family.
The biggest hurdle in African society is the prejudices many people have about girls education. They hold the erroneous belief that a woman’s life and future begins and ends in the kitchen. So, they do not bother about the education of a girl-child. This erroneous impression must be corrected. Education still remains the only tool with which a girl or a woman can empower herself and eventually her family. Without education, the future of a woman is not guaranteed.
A girl is no less than a boy, if any thing, a girl can be more diligent, dutiful, hardworking and consistent in her effort towards achieving excellence in life.
Nigeria is still rated as a developing country in spite of her huge natural resourcers. This is so because of their inability to harness her resources towards nation building, especially in the area of a girl-child education.
Education has the potentials to empower women to contribute towards the development and prosperity of their country. Economic empowerment and independence can only come through proper education and employment of women.
Education helps a woman to live a good life. Her education enables her to know her rights. Her rights can never be trampled upon unnecessarily. Her identity as a an individual would never get lost. Instances of violence and injustice against women such as forced prostitution, child-marriage, female foeticide will surely reduce if the education of a girl-child is encouraged.
Today, the society is witnessing changes in the role-status of women. The modern day mother wants to fulfill the aspiration of her children without gender parity.
In a nutshell, girls are the pride and dignity of their families and they shouldn’t be deprived of education and rights.
According to Kathy Calvin, United Nations Foundation President & CEO, “Girls are one of the most powerful forces for change in the world. When their rights are recognized, their needs are met and their voices are heard, they drive positive change in their families, their communities and the world”.
Harry is a student of University of Science and Technology (RSUST), Port Harcourt.