Girl Child Education In Nigeria

Education is one of the most critical areas of empowerment for women in the world at the moment. It is also an area that offers some of the clearest examples of discrimination women suffer. Among children not attending school there are twice as many girls as boys, and among illiterate adults there are twice as many women as men.

Education is very important for every child whether boy or girl. In this part of the world, the rate of girl child education is at low. Primary school enrollment has increased in recent years, but net attendance is only about 70%, but Nigeria still has 10.5 million out-of-school children—the world’s highest number. 60% of those children are in northern Nigeria. About 60% of out-of-school children are girls. Many of those who do enroll drop out early. About 27.2 percent of school age girls in Nigeria are currently not enrolled.

To explain the fact that more boys than girls participated in education, Nigerian researcher Obasi identified a host of constraints with ‘Nigerian tradition’ being named as top of the list.

The decline in economic activities since the early 1980s has made education a luxury to many Nigerians, especially those in rural areas. Because Nigerian parents are known to invest in children according to sex, birth order or natural endowments, girls and boys are not exact substitutes. Often the family can only afford to send one child to school. Because daughters have assumed responsibilities in the home, she is less likely to be the one to attend school.

 

Why focus on girls’ education?

CAI Co-founder Greg Mortenson sums it up this way: “Once you educate the boys, they often leave the villages and search for work in the cities, but the girls stay home, become leaders in the community, and pass their knowledge onto their own children. If you really want to empower societies, reduce poverty, improve basic hygiene and health care, reduce the population explosion, and fight high rates of infant and maternal mortality, the answer is to educate girls.”

 

That women might have the chance of a healthier and happier life should be reason enough for promoting girls’ education. However, there are also important benefits for society as a whole. An educated woman has the skills, information and self-confidence that she needs to be a better parent, worker and citizen.

What would it take to improve girls’ access to education in Nigeria?

Experience in scores of countries shows the importance, among other things, of:

  • Parental and community involvement — Families and communities must be important partners with schools in developing curriculum and managing children’s education.
  • Low-cost and flexible timetables — Basic education should be free or cost very little. Where possible, there should be stipends and scholarships to compensate families for the loss of girls’ household labour. Also, school hours should be flexible so children can help at home and still attend classes.
  • Schools close to home, with women teachers — Many parents worry about girls travelling long distances on their own. Many parents also prefer to have daughters taught by women.
  • Preparation for school — Girls do best when they receive early childhood care, which enhances their self-esteem and prepares them for school.
  • Relevant curricula — Learning materials should be relevant to the girl’s background and be in the local language. They should also avoid reproducing gender stereotypes.
  • Encouragement — If a girl is encourage and enlighten about education and its important, she will develop interest in it and grow with the mind set.

 

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