Change Magazine September 2017 Issue - Page 16

Musa Umaru Yar’Adua, GCFR, flagged off his National Campaign on access, while the Federal Minister of Education also launched the Roadmap for the Nigerian Education sector, which includes accessibility, equity and quality assurance especially for young women. The then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said that in Africa, when families have to make a choice of educating either a girl or a boy child, due to limited resources, it is always the boy that is chosen to attend school. In Africa, many girls are prevented from getting the education entitled to them because families often send their daughters out to work at a younger age so that they can get the additional income they may need to exist beyond subsistence level, and finance education for boys. Through a research conducted in five different communities, I have found that among a random interaction with about 60 street children on the streets of Accra, Ghana, about 46.7% of them attributed their inability to attain formal education to weak financial conditions where as 16% were out of school as result of teenage pregnancy. 10% dropped out of school because of the nature and structure of the educational system and equally 10% were out of school because of harsh treatments from school authorities. Surprisingly, 3.3% simply did not believe in education as the key to a better life. Another contributing factor to the challenges of girls’ education is the belief systems common in African societies. Socio-cultural beliefs have extensively influenced parents not to even believe in girls’ education. For some societies, it is preferable to keep their girls home to take care of sick parents and relatives who may be battling with diseases such as HIV-AIDS. According to Guttman—a UNESCO courier journalist—customs, poverty, fear, and violence are the reasons why girls still account for 60% of the estimated 113 million out-of-school children, and majority live in sub-saharan Africa and South Asia. As a strong advocate for girls, here are some of my proposed solutions amidst the challenges: First and foremost, it is very sad and heartbreaking that the vast majority of school-aged girls in sub-Saharan Africa are not enrolled in secondary school. This relatively high costs of education are acting as a major hindrance for poorer parents. Ultimately, if parents are empowered and governments create enough jobs, certainly there would be resources available for parents to fund education not only for their boys but also their girls. away from illogical socio-cultural, customs and traditions that have the potential of misleading societies. Last but not least, I recommend that there is focus on systemic reform with a gender lens. Ultimately, the best approach for helping girls get educated is to ensure governments have strong educational systems. Once that enables all children to access good schools and quality learning opportunities, then girls can be empowered to go to school. Good schools must be places where girls and boys alike are given the opportunity to thrive and grow. There is a need for an educational system where good schools are a