By Teddy Nwanunobi
Abuja (Sundiata Post) — Latest public opinion poll conducted by NOIPolls has highlighted the role of poverty (28 percent), culture (20 percent), parental illiteracy (18 percent) and child marriage (15 percent) as the major factors militating against the girl child education in the country.
However, the poll has affirmed the importance of the girl child education to the society, with 99 percent of respondents acknowleging its importance.
“In spite of the general consensus on the importance of the girl child education to communities, the girl child still suffers neglect and deprivation of basic education, usually sacrificing her chances to the boy child.
“This is because when it boils down to choosing who to empower educationally amidst scarce resources, many families often consider sending the boy child to school ahead of the girl child, mainly due to the perception that he would be more resilient and work hard to set his family free from poverty,” the poll said.
More findings from the poll indicated that a significant proportion of Nigerians (63 percent) were of the opinion that boys and girls be given equal access to education at all levels, because they both have equal rights.
“Although 18 percent still considered educating girls ahead of boys, because they believe girls are homely, and when a girl is educated, it translates to the education of an entire community; however, 19 percent still think boys should have priority over girls in accessing education because they believe boys will grow to become the head of the household.
“These persistent inequalities in education cripple the lives of several women and girls in terms of deprivation, vulnerability, poverty, and exploitation,” it said.
It, therefore, urged the society to educate girls to the same level as boys.
“An educated female population increases a country’s productivity and fuels economic growth.
“Furthermore, in order to foster the girl child participation in education in Nigeria, 30 percent of the respondents suggested mass public sensitization on the dire need to educate the girl child vis-a-vis its importance.
“Parental literacy was also advised by 25 percent as they believe that, if a parent is enlightened, there is an equal chance that the child, either a boy or a girl, would also be educated.
“Finally, as poverty has been cited as one of the major reason for less participation of the girl child in education, government at all levels should do more to harmonise the policies that would create more job opportunities to eradicate poverty or reduce it to the barest minimum, while also partnering with develpment agencies and the private sector to build more girls’ community schools and provide affordable/free education.
“These are some of the key findings from the Girl Child Education poll conducted in the week commencing February 27, 2017,” the poll added.
The poll, thereafter, highlighted the importance of education to an individual.
“Education not only trains the mind and forms the character of every individual; it also equips us with skills that are vital to our very existence. Education, in itself, is capable of setting the mind free from oppression by way of eradicating the darkness of ignorance and giving direction to the human existence and it is a key to success.
“It is also one of the most important, out of the 17 Sustainable Developmental Goals (SDGs) of the United Nation is education, aimed to be achieved by 2030, and it is premised on ensuring inclusive and quality education for all and promotes lifelong learning. There are a lot of human right instruments that provide for education as a fundamental right, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UNDHR), adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on the of December 10, 1948, at the Palais de Chaillot, Paris.
“In the actual sense, both genders should have equal rights to education and skills acquisition but the females have been deprived of this right due to growing inequalities. According to a report by the United Nation Children’s Fund (UNICEF), in sub-Saharan Africa, a girl would have been married off at a tender age before she would be aware of how to take good care of herself and her unborn babies; hence, we have babies dying before they are five because they were born to mothers who were children without basic education.
“The reason why early marriages thrive could be attributed to the parents’ lack, which prompts most poor families to shift the load or responsibilities by marrying off their girl child, who, at most times, is barely of marriageable age to enable them take care of the rest of their children.
“A girl child could be doomed to be an illiterate forever, if her husband does not give her opportunity to go to school, after the wedding. A girl, who is uneducated, is placed at higher risk due to her ignorance, lack of skills, information and confidence that could have made her a better person overall, availed to various opportunities as her educated peers.
“When a girl child is educated, a potential mother would have been educated, who will also educate her children and thus the society at large. It would turn out to be that there will be a future assured with better heath, less infant diseases and deaths plus all other Sustainable Development Goals could be achieved in a possible manner.
“But so many factors have been militating against girl child education in our society from the colonial era where it was imposed in the heart of the African man that he is rather superior to the woman.
“In the light of the above and in commemoration of the International Women’s Day, NOIPolls conducted this survey to ascertain the level of importance attached to the Girl Child Education in Nigeria, its priority and the factors militating against it, as well as suggestions on how to promote it,” the poll concluded.