If you agree with the conventions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and the International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1960), then, the provision of education is a fundamental human right. The 1948 declaration, particularly, gave humanitys a fresh responsibility to lay the frame work for a better world; a blue print to birthing a new and better human race, rising from the ashes of a disastrous world war that had almost brought the world to the brink of implosion. Of course, you agree. We all agree. I mean, what kind of person wouldn’t agree to the declaration of human rights, anyway? Maybe, only a Bokoharamite….those bad guys…those evil…well, matter for another day. So, yea, education is a fundamental Human Right. Meaning, you deny me a good education, you owe me. And by international law, should I choose the option of the courts, your behind is mine – that’s me assuming kids knew to sue. And suppose they did, statistics say it would be the female ones keeping the courts busy, all day, every day.
According to data results from several research on Nigeria’s education performance, female children in Nigeria do not enjoy equal access to education like their male counterparts. And please, don’t even argue. This gender gap, predominant in the northern parts of Nigeria, sees a disparity of 1 girl to 2 boys in some states, and 1 girl to 3/4 boys in others. Findings show that these girls, rather than given access to formal education, are compelled to stay at home to do domesticated chores and to bring additional income into the family. Already, many families across Nigeria cannot afford the associated costs of sending their children to school, so, pre-existing cultural bias makes the decision easier as to who gets to stay home to help, who helps in hawking the wares that feed the family and who in the not too distant future, gets to marry some money into the family – ready or not. More findings also declared that girl children from wealthy homes had better access to education than those from poor homes. As unsurprisingly logical as that is, this piece of information still comes in all shades of bleak. Why? In 2010, 62.1% (conservative in my opinion) of Nigeria’s population were estimated to live below the poverty line. Five years on, it is almost anyone’s guess which side of the debate would win on whether that statistic has improved or deteriorated down the line. And please, enter the streets and see for yourself before you start throwing efico figures at me. Truth is, opportunities for educating the girl-child have actually gotten slimmer, especially in the North-West and North-East where the poverty rise appears exponentially geometric, especially, given the present challenges of violent displacements and abductions by those pre-historic boko Neanderthals. Sadly, early marriage becomes the flip side for the young female child with no education to fill in the gap of childhood. Well, there probably could be an attempt at an informal education at first, (like Quranic schools in the north), but ultimately, an early, unprepared bride ship comes in at some point not too far.
So, for girls, education has the benefit of, first, delaying early marriage and pregnancy. This way, a girl below the age of 20 does not get married, facing greater chances of suffering abuse. Instead, she gets an education and has a greater say in who she marries. An educated girl child can understand and adopt effective methods of family planning, which means, having fewer and healthier babies. And, perhaps to emphasize the importance of educating the girl-child, a World Bank research discovered that for each year of schooling, 2 maternal deaths are prevented out of every 1000 women each year! Education is amazing! In fact, I believe every year of schooling helps a girl make better decisions for her and her family which in turn, affects the rest of society positively. It has that domino effect. The popular saying goes: “Educate a boy, make a family rich; educate a girl, make a country rich.” While that almost sounds like ‘throw the boys to the dogs, they’d still get rich anyway – if they stay in the country,’ the main idea remains: there are wider societal benefits to letting that young girl pick a book than allow her become a piece of industry, or, to watch her take on that new surname rather prematurely. And, anyone notice how I didn’t mention a certain Senator’s name again this time? That’s me being nice until I come by you again.God Bless TheGirl Child !
By Olayinka Odumosu & Jide Odi