The Bauchi State government Universal Basic Education, with support from United Nation Children’s Fund (UNICEF), last week, flagged-off the Girls for Girls Initiative G4G in 100 schools of six local government areas of the state, designed to empower girls with knowledge and confidence needed to enroll and remain in school. Segun Awofadeji reports
The girl-child education is becoming a major part of discourses in academic and political spheres in the country. However, states in the north have the countryâ€™s worst girl-child education and health risks.
Of the 10 million out-of -school children in the country, the girls constitute a major number. The latest scorecard by the United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA) showed that there is high rate of female illiteracy, which is caused by poverty followed closely by the culture of the Nigerian people and religion.
With this in mind, the United Nation Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in partnership with Federal Ministry of Education and the Bauchi State government, recently flagged-off the Girls for Girls Initiative G4G in 100 schools of six local government areas of the state.
The initiative, is aimed at empowering girls with knowledge, skills and confidence needed to enroll and remain in school.
The Chief Field Office, UNICEF, Bauchi, Abdulai Kaikai gave an overview of the project during its official launching, held recently at the Government Girls College, Bauchi, in collaboration with the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) and Fahimta Women and Youths Development Initiative (FAWOYDI).
He said it is a component of the Girls Education Project, phase 3 (GEP3), being implemented in the state, Niger, Kastina, Sokoto and Zamfara with funding from the United Kingdom Department of International Development, DFID.
He expressed concern that the average northern girl only stays in school up to the age of 9 and one in 10 girls in northern Nigeria generally completes secondary education, adding, â€these numbers are staggering and should be considered a threat to national development.â€
Kaikai said in 2011, UNICEF, with the financial backing of USAID had initiated the Girls Education Project phase 3 (GEP3), aimed at ensuring that at least 1million girls in Bauchi, Niger, Katsina, Sokoto and Zamfara enrolled in schools.
The State Governor, Mohammed Abubakar who flagged-off the project said aside increasing girls enrollment, it will also ensure retention and completion in schools, adding that it was a step in the right direction.
Represented by the State Head of Civil Service, Liman Bello, the governor said his administration has paid all its counterpart funds in all the activities of UNICEF interventions, and expressed its willingness to support the objective of the project.
Wife of the Bauchi State Governor, Hajiya Hadiza Mohammed Abubakar, said the state has the least enrollment rate of girl-child in Junior Secondary School (JSS) in Nigeria, particularly in the North-East region, adding that about 62 million girls are out of school worldwide with majority of them coming from Africa and other developing countries.
â€œMost women miss out of education due to one reason or the another, the launch of G4G in Bauchi state is a right step towards addressing the issue of girl-child education in the state. The launch of this project is a complete mentoring program that support girls to remain and complete basic education on one hand and promotes better understanding of values of education by parents on the other hand. It is a step toward addressing the aforementioned issue of girls child education,” she said.
She expressed optimism that the project would empower girls in the state to appreciate themselves and aspire for higher education.
She however called on all stakeholders to support girl-child education and sanction the growing cases of child abuse, molestation and other barriers that deny her the opportunity to reach her potential.
In her remarks, the President of FAWOYDI, Hajiya Maryam Garba, urged parents to allow their children to go to school and complete their secondary school before giving them out in marriage, adding that the Girls for Girls (G4G) initiative, will contribute to output one of the third phase of the girls education project, which is being implemented in five northern states of Nigeria; Bauchi, Katsina, Zamfara, Niger and Kebbi.
In his welcome address, the Executive Chairman, the Bauchi State Universal Basic Education Board, Professor Ibrahim Yaro, emphasised the need for improvement in girl-child education in the country, while calling on parents to allow and support their female children to go to school.
The Educational Field Officer, UNICEF Bauchi, Mr. Emeka Olora, harped on the importance of education, particularly for the girl-child, saying “if you educate a girl-child, it is like you educate the whole the world. An educated mother will educate her children and the nation at large.”
He added that a woman without education is like a waste product to her family and appealed to parents to allow their female children to have access to education before getting married.”