When women are educated, their countries become stronger and more prosperous –
Recently, the wife of the governor of Ekiti state, Bisi Fayemi, was quoted as saying that it is discriminatory for pregnant girls to be expelled from schools whereas, the boys who impregnated them are allowed to continue with their studies. And she is right.
The girl child education is Nigeria is littered with lots of challenges and issues and this is why there is this huge disparity in the number of boys and girls that are educated. Apart from teenage pregnancy, which can disrupt the girl-child education, there is the issue of religion and tradition, early marriage and also poverty.
According to the UN data released ahead of 73rd United Nations General Assembly in New York, it stated that there is an increase of over 6% in the number of girls not in primary school worldwide, in just one year and the number of out of school girls at primary level grew from 32 million in 2015 to 34 million in 2016 and around 16 million girls between ages 6-11 never enter a school as a student.
It also went further to reveal that nine in ten children in Africa are not learning the most basic reading and maths and only 34% of girls in the poorest households living in the poorest countries complete primary school and young women are nearly 90% more likely to be out of secondary school than their counterparts.
However, with the emergence of the School Based Management Committee (SBMC), it appears that there is now hope for the girl child.
The SBMC, which was initiated by the federal government to ensure the increase of citizen participation in school management and also to build local level capacity and to increase the participation of parents and communities in schools can be said to be in line in reducing the number of out of school children in the country.
According to the Kano State Project Coordinator of UNICEF, Richard Seyin Akannet, who stated that the main reason why girls do drop out from school is due to “personal cost and opportunity cost” and he further revealed that 4 % of girls drop out of school because of distance, 36% because of opportunity costs and 26% due to direct cost and as a result of this, UNICEF launched the Girls’ Education Project Phase 3 (GEP3) and through this initiative, it has recorded some remarkable impacts especially in the five northern states of Bauchi, Katsina, Niger, Sokoto, Zamfara and Kano.
The project Coordinator also pointed out that the initiative will use schemes like cash transfer, community enrollment and other schemes to ensure that by the end of 2020, over one million girls would have returned back to school.
He further explained that teachers ‘capacity will be improved, female graduates will be given scholarships and “prominent women” who have been successful in their careers will be used as models to spur the girls in the classroom on the need to concentrate on their studies.
In Warure Special Primary School in Gwale local government in Kano State, it seems like many girls there have rolled-on their sleeves and have started to concentrate on their studies. A certain Surayaa Inuwa in model six aspires to be a doctor when she grows up. The fourteen year-old who comes from a family of seven disclosed that she won’t be happy if her education is abrupted because of marriage and she disclosed that even if a governor comes for her hand in marriage, she will still say no until she completes her dream of becoming a doctor.
Apart from this revelation from Surayaa Inuwa, the SBMC in Warure School, Kano, have succeeded in including both religious and traditional leaders to help in enlightening the people on sending their children especially girls to school and it has also enlightened mothers on the need of sending their children to schools and it also instituted the mother’s committee.
The success story of the SBMC in the school also include: employment of eight casual teachers to cater for the teaching demands, provision of a mechanized borehole, bringing back drop-out pupils especially girls, providing securing for the school and employing two watchmen and provision of chairs and office seats.
Also, the Deputy Director of Moblilization, Universal Basic Education (Kano), Alhaji Bello Kagara, buttressed that the SBMC have come to stay and that their work is so important that the Universal Basic Education Commission and the states cannot monitor the framework and activities of education in the states, only the SBMC can do it.
With these achievements, it appears that the SBMC has come to stay. No doubt, the issue of early marriage and early pregnancy will always constitute a barrier for girls to be educated, but with SBMC, girls now have this girls for girls initiative, where they advise and counsel themselves on the need to prevent early pregnancy, get educated and contribute their own quota in the society and according to experts, educating girls have the tendency to help in increase the GDP of a country, reduce human trafficking, increase in literacy level and political representation, poverty reduction and the babies of educated mothers according to studies, do better in life than uneducated mothers. And also the initiative to use established “female models” who are already educated, to spur the girls to complete their education, will act as catalyst to “boost up” the interest of the girls towards education.