Please find for your reading the series, I began last week. It is a revisitation of an article, I wrote few years ago.

“States Parties shall respect and ensure the rights set forth in the present Convention to each child within their jurisdiction without discrimination of any kind, irrespective of the child’s or his or her parent’s or legal guardian’s race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, property, disability, birth or other status.

Article 3 Child’s Right Convention

Today I continue this piece, which I began last week by lamenting from the very depth of my heart the unjustifiable denial of the Nigerian Girl Child access to education.

The reasons that have been identified by experts for this prehistoric attitude to the education of the Nigerian Girl Child despite clear global indicators against gender discrimination are as follows:

I.    Poverty and economic issues.

II.    Early marriage and teenage pregnancy.

III.    Inadequate school infrastructure.

IV.    Cultural and religious biases.

V.    Gender bias in content and teaching and learning processes.

VI.    Poorly qualified teachers.

Now, discrimination against the Girl Child in the area of education is not without dire consequences. It is one of the major reasons for abject poverty in the sub-Saharan Africa. According to a report by UNICEF published in The Daily Independent, Thursday, April 29,2004, “the school is more than just educational opportunity. It saves and improves the lives of women. It enables them to make decisions for themselves and to influence the family. It is this power that produces all other developmental and social benefits. Women’s participation and influence in government, families, communities, the economy and the provision of services is a common good. It leads to more equitable development, stronger families, better services and better child health.”

The consciousness of foregoing benefits must have been the driving force behind the Ouagadougou Conference organized by UNICEF. It was a gathering of 24 ministers of education from West Africa. The Conference gave birth to the “Ouagadougou Declaration,” this declaration recognizes the importance of girl’s education for the countries’ development and commit governments to accelerating efforts to get as many girls as boys in school. With this document in mind UNICEF launched recently a key education initiative, “25 by 2005,” which has made a concerted effort to maximize the enrolment of girls in 25 countries where the situation is most critical {See Daily Independent, Thursday, April 29, 2004}.  It is no more news that Nigeria is one of the countries in focus.

Now, on the home front as an attempt to stem the tide of discrimination against the girl child in Nigeria, the Nigerian Government working in conjunction with UNICEF in 2001, joined the African Girls’ Education Initiative (AGEI).

You may want to ask why this piece if so much efforts are already been made to correct the situation. Yes, we live in a country where Government and it agencies take more delight in making and supporting policies than implementing them.  Last week, I made reference to the fact that the state of education of the girl child today is not because there is no National Policy on Education, which actively encourages the education of the girl child. There has been one since 1981. The problem is  “it has not been implemented effectively and efficiently.”

The fear is, if the National Policy can be abandoned what assurance do we have that the Nigerian Government would keep faith with its obligations under the above initiatives?

This piece is therefore a call on the Government and its snoring agencies to wake up and keep faith with the covenants of the “25 by 2005” and the African Girls’ Education Initiative. It is also a louder call to every man and women of conscience in Nigeria to safe the girl child from destructive discrimination. Finally, this is a corroboration to the recent call by International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) reported in The Guardian of Saturday, June 12, 2004 as follows: “that the male and female child must be given equal opportunities to education without discrimination and as such all traditional inhibitions against the education of the girl child which include early marriage, childbearing, performance of labour, care of younger siblings and participation of food production among others must be stooped”

Remember that one thing that cannot wait a second more today is the right of the child.


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