Despite a lot that has been done concerning the girl child education in Nigeria, we cannot be quiet, feel we have arrived and believe the education of a girl child is settled and without threat. The situation is far from satisfactory.
Not oblivious of the fact that a girl child in Nigeria faces so many gender-based challenges as compared to her male counterparts; the freedom and right to be educated is still a major challenge. Recent statistics has it that 34 million adolescent girls are out of school around the world and women make up nearly two thirds, that is almost 500 million of the world’s illiterate adult (www.theguardian.com). These shows that there is still a lot to be done.
The society at large offer its own fair share of discouragement but what about the immediate family? By all means they should be the ones supporting their girl children above all else but why is the reverse the case? Many beliefs are still not extinct in this modern day. For religious reasons and even traditional beliefs being passed on from one generation to another, many people bluntly enforce the fact that it’s a waste of time to educate a girl child. Her life has already been planned for them; married out at a young age, sit at home, bear children, do house chores and so on.
Need we be reminded that many successful women reckoned with in the world today still find fulfillment in their homes and marriages while pursuing their dreams. The belief that education takes the child away from home and cause the girl child to forget basic responsibilities to her parents is far from being true. On the contrary, it gives her a platform to become a source of pride to her parents and the knowledge needed to device better means of taking care of them.
On our outing today in search of out of school children, we came across a family; a grandmother who has practically subjected her grandchildren; two girls and a boy between the ages of 10-12 to ‘modern day slavery’, the children are out of school with no hope of returning to school soon. They hawked ‘kuli kuli’ on the streets for her. On our encounter with them and in our usual custom, to try to assist the family and children by ensuring they are enrolled back to school and basic school needs catered for. We got a blunt No! from the grandmother who would hear nothing of it.
All she could think about was making more ‘kuli kuli’ and ensuring all will be sold on that day. Their mother had nothing to say or opinion to give concerning the wellbeing and education of her children. The children also waited in anticipation to carry out their normal days’ duty. Now, probably another chance for the children to return to school has been blown away. Could she actually be blamed? The grandmother had taken the responsibility of her daughter and grandchildren and that was the only means of survival she knew and everyone had to be part of it.
This is just one of the many cases we encounter daily. Perhaps if their mother had been educated, she would be in a better place by now and not be subjected to the kind of life she has found herself and her children in. She might have had a say for herself and her children’s future and even be able to cater for the needs of her mother too. Her story might also be pitiful. She might have had little or no education. Deep inside, she probably wants to give her children more than she ever got from life but if things go on like this, they might end up like her or in even worse situations. She has two girl children, if not assisted early, the trend of struggle will probably continue to more girl children and the number of illiterate female adults will increase.
We at FOH, have taken it upon ourselves to ensure that this family and many other families in similar situations are not left on their own. We will make it a duty to educate them, so they can see the need for these children especially the girls to be educated in order to pave a better way for themselves and obtain a brighter future in the end.
The benefits of Education to a girl- child is enormous and cannot be overlooked. Education gives you a say. A right to decide the course of your life. Education gives you the right to contribute positively to the lives of the people around you. A right to dream and work towards actualizing it. The right and proper education breeds good exposure which leads to better opportunities.
Therefore, FOH have taken up this fight alongside other well-meaning Nigerians on this International Day of Education 2019 to raise our banner TO INCLUSIVE EDUCATION FOR ALL (SDG 4).