Girl-Child education: Important for national development
By Wubon Hebrews Isaac
Like their male counterparts, they have the right to education and skill acquisition, the right to career choice and self actualization. Girl-child education becomes pertinent for the attainment of national development.
In the past, education has not necessarily been a priority for the girl-child because of cultural beliefs, poverty and so on. It is believed that the place of the girl-child is in her husband’s house. The male child was considered to be superior to the gild-child in many aspects especially education and that is why in most cases; only the male child had access to education. Unfortunately, many people still hold unto this disparity between the female and the male gender.
Other causes for the negligence of the girl-child education could be attributed to parent’s unwillingness to send the girl-child to school. Some parents feel it is a waste to educate the girl-child because she would one day be married to someone else. Even when they have the means to educate her, they would always refrain from doing so.
Some cultures (especially in the north) have also contributed to the poor rate of girl-child education. Girls are given out for marriage at a very tender age. This exposes them to certain reproductive diseases and challenges like Vasco Vaginal Fistula (VVF), etc.
Ignorance and illiteracy of the parents also account greatly for the negligence of the girl-child education. When the parents are illiterate and ignorant of the western education, they would find no reason why the girl-child should be given equal right with the boy-child. This is because their mentality and attitude is been influenced by what they see around them and the ancient beliefs.
In a situation where the parents are poor, they would always choose to use the little resources to take the boy-child to school and allow the girl-child to either hawk or engage in other activities. The question is, why this disparity between the boy-child and the girl-child?
We need to know that as we look forward to national development, achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), vision 20:2020, the role of women cannot be underestimated. It is said that “when you educate a man, you educate a person, but educate a woman, you educate a complete family.” This is because the education of every child starts from the family and mother is first teacher.
The girl-child also needs to be educated to acquire knowledge and skills needed to advance her status – knowledge for social interaction, self improvement and status advancement. The girl-child education also prepares her to face the reality in the society and teaches her to be a good wife and mother.
Secondly, to realise the full potentials endowed in her, she discovers to be a medical doctor, lawyer, teacher, journalist, politician, to mention just a few. Education would break the shell of ignorance and open that of self discovery. We have seen vibrant women in Nigeria like Prof. Dora Akunyili, Mrs. Farida Waziri, Prof. Rukaiyatu Rufai, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjowela etc., who confirmed the saying that “what a man can do, the woman can do better.”
Education would also help the girl-child to develop civic sense and learn to respect, love her fellow human beings and to be a good and patriotic citizen. It will also make her to think, question and judge independently.
It is unequivocal that only educated women understand the needs of the family. They will never send their children to work during school hours, rather, they will arrange for their education in good schools. They will take proper care of the health and diet of their children. An educated mother knows what is good for her kids and how they should be brought up. Thus, educated mothers would promote education for all children without discrimination.
As a way of encouraging girl-child education for national development, government should support this campaign through funding and employing people who can go to the grassroots for sensitization. The government also needs to partner with other Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) like the Girl Child Concern (GCC) to Champion this course.
The Child Right Act should be strengthened and ensured that it is implemented in all the states. This would go a long way in checkmating indiscriminate child abuse and gender disparity. This is because as girls are not educated, they remain dependent on their families before marriage, on their husbands after marriage and on their children if eventually their husbands die. As a father or mother, would you love to see your daughter in this condition? Of course no. This then calls for encouraging girl-child education.
•Wubon studies Mass Communications at Taraba State University, Jalingo