Abuja — The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has enrolled about 15, 303 girls in selected schools through the Girls for Girls (G4G) initiative in three northern states including; Bauchi, Katsina and Zamfara.
The programme which is referred to as G4G initiative, a component of the Girls' Education project phase three, targeted at higher primary schools and junior secondary schools with specific focus on the retention of girls in schools, is presently operational in 300 primary schools in 18 local government areas across the three states.
UNICEF's Education Specialist, Mrs. Azuka Menkiti who made this known during a media dialogue organised by the Ministry of Information and Culture in collaboration with UNICEF in Zamfara State, said the high drop out rate of girls from schools between primary four to six, gave rise to the implementation of the initiative.
According to her, the initiative which was supported by the Department for International Development (DFID), and implemented by UNICEF through civil society organisations and state basic education boards, has carried out direct training of 600 girls on leadership, life and vocational skills.
She explained that the G4G was making use of mother associations and a minimum of three mentors in each school to make the girls conscious of who they are and why they should remain in school.
"Out of 15, 303 girls; Bauchi state had 5, 284, Katrina had 5,620 and Zamfara 4,399, have been enrolled and participating in 813 established G4G groups across 18 LGA's in the 300 pilot schools in three states.
"In the months following the inception of this programme, a lot of positive changes have been seen in the girls who now aspire to become great women in future. The G4G is to create a platform for empowering girls with knowledge, skills and confidence to exercise the right to enroll and remain in school," she said.
The Executive Director , Life Helpers Initiative in Zamfara state, Mr. Tayo Fatinikun said since the inception of the initiative, there have been results of greater interest in education and exposure of the girls to an enhanced learning attitude and life skills.
He said through the mentors and mother associations, the girls were trained on social, vocational and health based issues through school-based safe space, extra curriculum activities established in support of the enrolled girls in benefiting Local Government Areas (LGAs).
"Zamfara is one of the educationally disadvantaged states of the federation with very poor and low enrollment, retention level and strong disparity between boys and girls enrollment. Our targets are the children, women of reproductive age, youth and the community structures."
The Secretary General, The High Level Women Advocacy (HiLWA) in charge of implementing G4G in Bauchi State, Halima Maigari said the state government has keyed into the initiative instrumental to giving girls a voice to speak out on issues affecting their education or life in general.
She said this was possible due to attachment of three mentors to each benefiting school to better relate with the girls on their challenges noting, "G4G is a girls space where they discuss their problems openly amongst themselves or during a one on one interaction with their mentor.
"We have taken ownership of the initiative to ease the funding from UNICEF. We also have sustainability plans by ensuring that other local governments not captured by UNICEF are part of the training and ensure there is a replication in those places not captured in the pilot phase of G4G in the state.
"As a result, there is an increase to 224 schools with G4G groups in Bauchi state under the efforts of the state government because of the positive results of G4G and so presently, we have in total, 324 schools with G4G," she stressed.