By Segun Awofadeji in Bauchi
The federal government has applauded the commitment and support of the United Nations Childrenâ€™s Fund (UNICEF) towards ensuring that basic education is brought to the girl-child in northern Nigeria.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohamed, made the commendation at the opening of a two-day media dialogue workshop for the Girls For Girls (G4G) Initiative organised by the Child Rights Bureau (CRIB) of the Federal Ministry Information in collaboration with UNICEF and supported by UK AID held at Gusau, Zamfara State Thursday.
The media partners invited for the workshop consists of journalists/correspondents from the five project states namely: Bauchi, Katsina, Niger, Sokoto and Zamfara as well as reporters from Lagos and Abuja.
While stressing the need to ensure that girls are empowered, especially through education, the minister said: â€œIt is worthy to note that girls are very important part of our society and indeed a high percentage of success in developmental processes in any society can be associated to them because of the peculiar space they occupy in homes and the roles they play in the society at large.”
According to him, â€œWe all know that the G4G Initiative is a component of the Girlsâ€™ Education Project Phase 3 being implemented in northern Nigeria to help support girls to remain in school and improve their learning achievement.
â€œThere is need to appreciate that some progress has been made in this bid but a lot still needs to be done considering the fact that a large number of girl children are yet to be captured in the programme.â€
The minister also said that the dialogue was designed to enlighten the media on girl-child education issues in the focus states, and therefore enjoined the media to come up with “well defined reports and stories to sensitise the people, especially the duty bearers of the need to enroll the girl child in school”.
In his remarks, the CRIB Head of Advocacy, Olumide Osanyinpeju, said the project was launched in August 2017 and identified the focus states for the G4G Initiative as Bauchi, Niger, Katsina, Sokoto and Zamfara States.
According to him, the media dialogue would also enable participants â€œto experience firsthand and gain insight into how the project affects the lives of girls who have participated in the G4G Initiativeâ€.
Giving an overview of the G4G project, the Education Specialist, UNICEF, Azuka Menkiti, said the primary goal of G4G was to empower girls with knowledge, skills and confidence needed to enroll and remain in school, completing the full course of education so they can be role models to other girls in their communities.
She also explained that the G4G empowers girls with information and knowledge to help build their capacity to stand up for themselves.
While stating that the project aims at creating equal opportunities for girls to access education, she pointed out that the G4G Initiative was a component of the Girlsâ€™ Education Project Phase Three being implemented in northern Nigeria through a collaboration between UNICEF Nigeria and the federal government with funding from the United Kingdom Department of International Development (DFID).
According to her, â€œThis phase of the Girls Education Project seeks to help put one million girls in school, support them to remain in school and improve their learning achievement. The focus states have the highest number of girls who do not attend school in Nigeria.”