Importance Of Girl-Child EducationIn Nigeria

By Okeog hene Edith ACCORDING to the Oxford Advanced Learners
Dictionary, education is the process of receiving
or giving systematic instruction, especially at a
school or university. Education is an enlightening experience.
To educate means to train the mind, character,
and abilities of individuals. Education is a fundamental
human right that should be availed to all individuals
irrespective of age, sex and nationality.
From the dictionary definition above, it is obvious
that education is central to development and improvement
of individuals which would ultimately translate to
the well-being of the nation. It empowers people and
strengthens nations. It is a powerful “equalizer”, opening
doors to all to lift themselves out of poverty. Two of
the eight MDGs pertain to education namely, universal
primary completion and gender parity in primary and
secondary schooling. Moreover, education especially
girls’ education has a direct and proven impact on the
goals related to child and reproductive health and environmental
sustainability. Education also promotes
economic growth, national productivity and innovation,
and values of democracy and social cohesion.
Investment in girl-child education benefits the
individual, society, and the world as a whole. Broadbased
education of good quality is among the most
powerful instruments known to reduce poverty and
inequality. With proven benefits for personal health,
it also strengthens nations’ economic health by laying
the foundation for sustained economic growth. For
individuals and nations, education is key to creating,
applying, and spreading knowledge and thus to the
development of dynamic, globally competitive economies.
And it is fundamental for the construction of
democratic societies.
The girl-child is a female child from birth, later grown
into a young immature woman, especially an unmarried
one and should not be denied the right to education. The
National Child Welfare Policy (1989) as cited by Ada
(2001) defines the girl-child as a female between the
ages of 14 years. Offorma (2009) defines it as a Biological
female offspring from birth to eighteen (18) years
of age. This includes the period of infancy, childhood,
early and late adolescence stage of development. The
girl-child is, therefore, seen as a female person who will
eventually grow into a woman, get married and bear
her own children.
The gender apartheid placed the girl-child in a disadvantaged
position, suppresses her potentials and
destroys her self-actualization thereby making her to
become a victim of a pre-existing socio-cultural male
chauvinism (such character that subjects the girl-child
to multiple operation, exploitation and discrimination).
The girl-child education has become a major issue
of concern in most developing countries of the world
especially in Sub-Sahara Africa where large numbers of
young girls do not attend school. According to UNICEF
(2007) as cited by Grace (2010), the global figure for
out of school children is estimated to be 121million,
out of which 65million (approximately 53.8 per cent)
were girls and over 80 per cent of whom lives in Sub-
Sahara Africa.
The importance of the girl child education can never
be overemphasized. Education is paramount; it is the
light that shows the way by removing the darkness of
ignorance as education is the salt that gives the taste
of life. The girl-child in Nigeria have had various challenges
in order to obtain equal education in all forms
of formal education. In Nigeria, education is a basic
human right and has been recognized as such since the
1948 adoption of the Universal Declaration on Human
Rights.
A positive correlation exists between the enrollment
of girls in primary schools and the gross national product
and increase of life expectancy. Because of this correlation,
enrollment in schools represents the largest
component of the investment in human capital in any
society. Rapid socio-economic development of a nation
has been observed to depend on the caliber of women
and their education in that country. Education bestows
on girls a disposition for a lifelong acquisition of knowledge,
values, attitudes, competence and skills.
To ensure equal access to education, the National
Policy on Education states that access to education is
a right for all Nigerian children regardless of gender,
religion and disability. Education is meant for all. In
fact, it is the fundamental human right of every child
whether boy or girl, able or disabled to acquire the basic
education. There should therefore, be no discrimination
as to who goes to school and who does not, hence
education recognizes and helps to unlock the potentials
in every child. Low enrolment of the girl-child in school
is widening the educational
and economic gap
between the men and the
women folks, families
and Nigeria in general.
The girl-child has the
right to education like
the male child, the right
to skill acquisition, the
right to make choice and
self-actualization just
like the male child. But
in some societies, the
girl child is denied the
right to adequate education;
they are married out
before they turn fifteen
years not being able to
finish school. This is an
abuse to their human
right. Most females in
some countries including
Nigeria are overlooked, under fed, and uneducated.
Girls are being abused, forced into marriage and baby
making machines which subject them to poverty.
It has been noted by researchers that enabling female
education is crucial for national development, and the
role of women cannot be underestimated. When a girl
is educated, a nation is also educated. This is so because
the education of every child starts from the family and
the mother is the first teacher. Educating the girl child
produces mothers who
are educated and who
will in turn educate their
children, care for their
families and provide for
their children financially.
Educating the girl child
leads to better health for
the future generation, reduction
in child mobility
and mortality.
Finally, the child’s Right
Act should be strengthened
and implemented
in all states of the federation.
This would go a long
way in checkmating indiscriminate
girl child abuse.
The girl child should be
encouraged towards education.