In this post we will be looking at the history and importance of girl child education, Gender disparity in schools and Reasons behind the disparity.
Education of girls has begun to receive the attention it deserves for thousands of years men have believed that the proper place for the women is the home and that the home can be properly managed by ignorant women. But today, other views are changing the views of women and several influences are steadily changing the old-fashioned attitudes. Fortunate African women who enjoy a good education have proved their abilities in several walks of life. They successfully attended doctors, teachers, lawyers etc. They are also found in industry, commerce and public administration. These set of women have proved the case for women’s education by demonstrating their usefulness outside the home. Equally, there is that new desire of educated men marrying educated women, thereby their children having educated mothers. This marks a great change in male attitude to the education of women and a steadily increasing demand for girls” education. In any society, where things work well, the women of such a society are figures to reckon with negative attitude of people to education of women should be a thing of concern in some localities within the Nigerian society. Even in Yoruba land, some people still believe, despite the socialization level that when you train females, they end up being other person’s properties so they feel it is not necessary wasting one’s money. Since the introduction of western education in Nigeria in 1842, women were encouraged to acquire western education. During the time of the missionaries, a lot of effort was made in promoting women education in Nigeria. This brought about the establishment of girls” schools. Although women education has gained grounds in the country, the question still remains that how many of these women occupy key positions in their various callings. In recent time in Nigeria, educated women as a pressure group have risen to imbalances in sex participation in rates in education, civil service and invariably national development in spite of the fact that women constitute a significant percentage of the nation’s population.
HISTORY OF GIRL CHILD EDUCATION IN NIGERIA.
Before 1920, primary and secondary education in Nigeria was within the scope of voluntary Christian organizations. Out of a total of 25 secondary schools established by 1920, three were girls only and the remainder were exclusively for boys. In 1920, the colonial government started giving out subvention to voluntary associations involved in education, the grant giving lasted till the early 1950s and at that point, education was placed under the control of regions. In 1949, only eight out of a total of 57 secondary schools were exclusively for girls. These schools are Methodist Girls’ High School, Lagos (1879), St Anne’s School, Molete, Ibadan (1896), St. Theresa’s College, Ibadan (1932), Queens College, Lagos, (1927) Holy Rosary College, Enugu (1935), Anglican Girls Grammar School, Lagos, (1945), Queen Amina College and Alhuda College, Kano. From 1950 up till 1960, six more notable schools were established and by 1960, there were fourteen notable girl’s schools, ten mixed and sixty-one boys only.
In the 1960s, when most African states began to gain their political independence, there was considerable gender disparity in education. Girls’ enrollment figures were very low throughout the continent. In May 1961, the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights and UNESCO’s educational plans for Nigeria were announced in a conference held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. A target was set: to achieve 100% universal primary education in Nigeria by the year 1980.
The implementation in the 1970s of the free and compulsory Universal Primary Education (UPE) was in line with this UN Plan. Ever since, UNICEF and UNESCO and many other organizations have sponsored, research and conferences within Nigeria regarding the education of girls. Up until the 1970s, considerably more boys than girls participated in education in Nigeria. According to one Nigerian Historian Kitetu, the native traditions’ philosophy was that a woman’s place is at home and this kept many girls away from education. However, with the government’s intervention and public awakening, parents began to send and keep their girl children in school. Consequently, women’s involvement became more visible.
It can be noted that purposeful plans of action led to an increase in females in schools after 1990. While more boys than girls were enrolled in 1991, a difference of 138,000, by 1998 the difference was only 69,400. At the pan-African Conference held at Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, in March and April 1993 (three decades after the UN Declaration of the 1960s) it was observed that Nigeria was still lagging behind other regions of the world in female access to education. It was also noted that gender disparity existed in education and that there was need to identify and eliminate all policies that hindered girls’ full participation in education.
IMPORTANCE OF GIRL CHILD EDUCATION
Girl- child education has been identified as the backbone of the advanced societies of the world. It is a serious issue that should not be treated lightly. Its impact in the society is numerous. Girl child education has a proven impact on the goals related to child, reproductive health. Education also increases the growth of the economic, national productivity and innovation, as well as the values of democracy. Girl child education benefits the individual, society, and the world as a whole. Education of good quality is one of the most powerful tools to decrease poverty and inequality. In addition to its benefits for personal health, education also strengthens nations’ economic health by laying the foundation for sustained economic growth. Education is key to creating, applying, and spreading knowledge thereby ensuring the development of dynamic, globally competitive economies. And it is necessary for the construction of democratic societies. Girl -child education is very necessary and an issue that cannot be overemphasized. Every child should be given the opportunity to be educated no matter the gender of the child as both sexes can bring equal growth and contributions to the society.
Importance of girl child education are as follows:
- Girl child Education Reduces Inequality: Illiteracy is one of the biggest causes of poverty. Primary education is a lifter for girls, ethnic minorities, orphans, disabled people, rural families and those who are likely to be poor. By providing them education, they become relevant to the nation and its growth. Education improves the girl, causing her to be productive and not a burden to the society. Educated women can raise their voices to be heard specially to demand for equality and fairness on issues that concern them and their families. Having a voice that could be heard leads to reduction in the rate of domestic and sexual violence.
- Education ensures economic growth: Productivity leads to higher income and improved economic performance. Education contributes greatly to improve a nation’s productivity. Education increases income for wage earners and productivity for employers thereby increases the benefits for the community and nation as a whole.
- Girl child education promotes economic competitiveness: One of the pillars of the knowledge-based economy is an educated and skilled workforce. Technical innovations and the competitive use of knowledge increases comparative advantage among nations.
- Girl child education raises productivity and earnings: Schooling increases the income for both men and women by a worldwide average of about 10 percent.
- It reduces poverty: Education is vital to the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals. While two of the goals pertain directly to education, education also helps to reduce poverty, enhance environmental awareness, and does more. Education lowers illiteracy rate which can give room for more women to be able to contribute financially to their families thereby making their families more capable of also securing education for their children. This also leads to lower poverty rate.
- It contributes to democratization: When there is smaller education gap between rates of boys’ and girls’ schooling the nation is most likely to enjoy greater democracy. It would also increase women’s involvement in the political process as educated women can participate in politics and contribute to effective governance of the society.
GENDER DISPARITY IN SCHOOLS
From 1970 to 1994, the enrollment of girls in primary education steadily increased from 30% to as high as 80%. However, differences exist between enrollment of males and females in all levels of education. In addition, the dropout rate of girls is higher than boys and participation in STEM classes are lower for girls than boys. In 2002, the combined gross enrollment for primary, secondary and tertiary schools for female was 57% compared to 71% for males. This translates into fewer women in certain economic fields. The percentages of female workers in some selected professions in 2012 were as follow: architects, 2.4%, quantity surveyors, 3.5%, lawyers/jurists, 25.4%, lecturers, 11.8%, obstetricians and gynecologists, 8.4%, pediatricians, 33.3%, media practitioners, 18.3%. Issues of gender equality in education have been the subject of much debate during the past decades and have become a prominent topic of debate in all countries. In Nigeria, there are large gender disparity between the education that which boys and girls receive. Many girls do not have access to adequate education past a certain age. In 2010, the female adult literacy rate (ages 15 and above) for Nigeria was 59.4% in comparison to the male adult literacy rate of 74.4%. It is differences in education that have led to this gap in literacy. The gender gap in literacy rates in 2000 at the rural level between boys and girls was 18.3 percent in favor of the boys overall. In the age group 6–9 years (primary school ages) it was 3.9 percent in favour of boys. This indicates that there is a gender dimension to educational attainment and development in Nigeria. According to the Examination Council of Nigeria (1994) there are still other problems, such as high drop-out rates of females students, poor performance, reluctance on the part of females students to enroll in science-based courses and poor classroom participation Across various geo-political delineations in Nigeria, a greater percentage of school-age girls are needlessly out-of-school, compared with the ratio applicable to boys of same age grouping. Gender disparity is also visible in the education of children with disabilities, a study in the 1990s revealed that only 37% of disabled females are literate compared to 57% for males. A reason for this situation is the cultural notion that the male will carry the family name while the female will marry. Also, the option of street begging by young disabled girls in order to earn income can inhibit their attendance of classes.
REASONS BEHIND THE DISPARITY
There are various cultural and socioeconomic issues in Nigeria that prevent women from having adequate access to education. Among other factors that influence girls’ disparity in education, parents/Guardians account for 90 percent, religious leaders 69 per cent, traditional leaders 54 per cent and community-based organizations 51 per cent. The rest of it are: Culture, values and tradition, Cost of education and colonial policies
To educate a girl child means to train her mind, character and abilities. Education is fundamental human right that should be availed to every girl child irrespective of the age and nationality. The importance of education in the life of a girl child can never be over-emphasized. In both spiritual and temporal mundane aspects of human existence, education is paramount. It is the light that shows the way by removing the darkness of ignorance. Therefore, educating the girl child translates to better health for the future generations, reduction in child mobility and mortality thus triggering a snowball effect of achieving all other sustainable development goals in a viable manner. The girl child education also prepares her to face realities in society and teaches her to be a good wife and mother. When she is educated, she realizes the full potentials endowed in her; she discovers to be whoever and whatever she wants to be. With education, she would break the shell of ignorance and open that of self-discovery.