British High Commissioner, Deputy Mark Girl Child Day

Paul Arkwright

Ahead of the International Day of the Girl Child, the British Deputy High Commission in Lagos recently organised a competition for young boys and girls between the ages of 12 and 18.

The competition was structured deliberately to include both genders in order to engage them in the all-important conversation about how to reduce the disparity in the number of girls who receive education.

The boys were asked their views on why girls’ education was important, and what they could do to help, while the girls were asked to share their dreams and how they intended to impact their communities with education.

Out of over 150 video entries, six boys and girls from across different schools and social strata in Lagos were invited to the British Deputy High Commissioner, Ms Laure Beaufils’ residence, on Thursday, October 11, where the High Commissioner Paul Arkwright, coincidentally on his farewell visit to Lagos, was also present to host the children to tea and conversation.

The chosen were Great Ebeke of Kuramo Junior Secondary School; Mensah Christiana Gbemisola of Kuramo Senior Secondary School; Vihaan Nagarkar of British International School; Aqeel Bello and Mahaprabha Sapre of Children International School; Mafeni Praise of Deeper Life High School; John Onuigbo, Moyosore Atteh of Corona Schools; Mololuwa Faithfulness Adeleke of Livingspring School; Feyisikemi Okunrinboye of Oxbridge College; Audrey Ekpeyoung of Vivian Fowler Memorial Girls College; and Erere Daniel of Eko Boys Grammar School.

The 12 shared their experiences and views on the education of girl children. They proposed solutions and potential avenues through which the British government, but also themselves in their individual capacities, could further help. They also discussed other societal issues facing girl children, and the educational sector, in general, as well as the importance of male allies in the fight for equality.

Beaufils said, “It was incredibly inspiring to speak to these bright young Nigerians about such a crucial topic that can sometimes get drowned out by other issues. I am excited by the progressive, insightful ideas that have been shared by these young Nigerians, and the passion with which they spoke makes me very optimistic about the future of Nigeria.”

Quoting a line from one of the winning entries, she added, “They are, indeed, stars from the African continent.”

Arkwright, addressing the boys in the group, said, “It is important for men and boys, especially, to recognise the role and power they have in making the world a fairer, more equitable place. You should not only desist from such behaviours but speak up when you see unfair treatment based on a girl’s gender.”

At the end of the discussion, they were presented certificates by the Deputy High Commissioner and High Commissioner as #GirlChampions and #HeforSheChampions for their participation in the competition.

An edited compilation of the winning videos can be found on the High Commission’s Facebook and Twitter pages @UKinNigeria.