28 June 2012

Nigeria: The Girl Child and Education in Nigeria


Educational backwardness in Nigeria is fast becoming an issue of major concern especially as it relates to girl child education in Nigeria.

The 1948 universal declaration of Human Right provides the first international recognition of the right to education when it stated that, "everyone has the right to education." More so, chapter four of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and various other sections of the constitution frown against discrimination of any type.

It is rather unfortunate that even in the 21st century, the female Nigerian child, especially in the Northern part of Nigeria, is denied access to education and several of them are exposed to harmful traditional practices like genital mutilation, denial of education, child trafficking etc.

Education for the girl child just as any other child is generally considered to be one of the core rights, as the basis for achieving other rights.

Statistics reveal that the national literacy rate for females is only 56 per cent as compared to 72 per cent for males.

Governments, stakeholders and other agencies that are responsible in running the educational sector must put in more effort to prohibit at least some forms of child labour. With 70 per cent of the population living below the poverty line, girls are often sent to generate income for families by selling wares, foodstuffs in the market, or on the streets.

Cultural and religious biases are yet another factor as many Nigerian parents, especially in large families with limited resources, enroll boys in school instead of girls.

The solution to these problems includes making available the needed schools for the education of the girl child. Hence, the government must make free and compulsory education available to school-age children, while at the same time establishing more schools to meet the rising demand for quality education.

There should be flexibility in our educational policies that will enable efficient and progressive changes to respond to girl child education needs in spite of cultural settings. This will make room for government to recognize and provide education to the child with disabilities and children deprived of their right to education.

The need for proper orientation of Nigerians, especially parents, community leaders, opinion leaders and religious leaders must be addressed. This will go a long way in improving the enrolment of the girl child in school.

Tolulope is from the Mass Communications Department, Federal Polytechnic, Bida.

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