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Education, and most recently, the girl child education is becoming a major part of discourses in academic and political spheres in Nigeria. Nollywood producers, radio presenters, professors, mechanics, drivers, politicians are always bringing up the issue to the public’s attention.
People everywhere- mostly women – are watching the debate unfurl with keen interest. Will there ever be a day in Nigeria where the girl child will be as privileged as the boy child is with regards to the freedom to pursue their academic aspirations? I can’t tell!
Honestly, the answers to these questions are best kept inside because while I get excited at the idea of a compulsory education for the Nigerian girl child irrespective of tribe or religion, some people frown at the idea and their reasons seem sane. In this article, we are going to discuss the girl child education in Nigeria enlisting in the process why it is so important. However, as the rule of fair-play necessitates, we will also highlight briefly the arguments against the girl child education and let you draw your ultimate conclusion.
The Nigerian constitution clearly stipulates that every child, boy or girl, has the right to education. Actually, the constitution even requires a free and compulsory education for children between the ages of 6 through 15 years. Nonetheless, we are aware that there are over 10 million children that are not in school and are not receiving any form of training to help them better their lots in life. Of these 10 million children, the woman – or more accurately, the girl child- constitutes a sizeable chunk.
One of the major reasons militating against the girl child education is poverty, followed closely by the culture of the Nigerian people and certain aspects of the Nigerian religion. With about 60% of Nigerians living in poverty, families are forced to make very difficult choices. One of such choices is to sacrifice the education of some of its children for the education of one who will later carry the other family members to ‘the promised land’; needless to say that the education of the girl child is almost always sacrificed for that of the boy child.
This practice undermines the roles a woman plays in the family and the society at large. It goes without saying that the woman is the foundation of the home. She could make it work or just break it. To the child, she is a friend, a teacher, a confidant, a counselor and the ‘hand that feeds’.
These roles — roles that help a child survive, grow and develop into the best he can be — cannot be played efficiently if the woman has no education nor an understanding of the world her child lives in. To the husband, she is also a friend, a counselor, a partner and most importantly a bedmate. Now, how could a bed be celestial when proper hygiene cannot be assured?
I understand that arguments abound that the more educated women get, the more broken homes a society has to address and hence the more children with a distorted world view we have to encounter. Now even though recent trends may prove that assumption to be right I will counter that by stating that we already have enough divorce and plenty of distorted individuals around. Maybe a try at compulsory girl child education will address many other more critical issues like child and maternal mortality amidst others.
What are your views? Comment below!