Educating the Girl ChildThe importance of the girl child in any society cannot be overlooked. In the words of Barr. (Mrs) Funmi Falana “an untrained girl child is indeed an untrained society” depicts the danger of not training the girl child.
Having recognised the importance of the girl child in the society, United Nations General Assembly declared October 11 every year as the “International Day of the girl child”. This day according to UN is to “focus attention on the need to address the challenges girls face and to promote girls’ empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights.” A day set aside to promote human rights and address discrimination and violence faced by girls.
The theme for this year’s girl child day is: “Innovating for Girls’ Education”. The theme shows the quest for effective, efficient and sustainable methods of educating the girl child.
Having noticed the overwhelming evidence of the girl child education in serving as a powerful transformative force for societies, UN calls for innovative ways of educating the girl child effectively.
According to a website research, an estimated 5.5 million children are trafficked annually for forced child labour and sexual exploitation while 67 percent of the illiterate people in the world are women and girls. This is attributed to early marriage and other cultural practices.
The United Nation Children’s Fund on twitter: @UNICEF puts the figure of 31 million as the amount of girls deprived of education.
“What can be done to make sure that the girl child is educated? After all, educating girls is the single most powerful investment for development. And it is their right.
“But even though more girls are entering school than ever before, 31 million are still denied this right.
“Those that do attend school face major challenges- discrimination, financial stress, and threats to their safety, to name just a few.
“It is clear that the world needs new, creative solutions to help girls everywhere overcome these barriers to learning and achievement,” as stated on UNICEF’s twitter handle – @UNICEF
The theme for this year is chosen due to the ‘perceived low returns from poor quality of education,’ which has prevented the girl child from achieving adequate learning outcomes.
This year’s International Day of the Girl Child is meant to address “innovation in partnerships, policies, resource utilization, community mobilization, and most of all, the engagement of young people themselves.
Some of the areas UN requires its member states to focus are:
- Improved public and private means of transportation for girls to get to school—from roads, buses, mopeds, bicycles to boats and canoes;
- Collaboration between school systems and the banking industry to facilitate secure and convenient pay delivery to female teachers and scholarship delivery to girls;
- Provision of science and technology courses targeted at girls in schools, universities and vocational education programmes;
- Corporate mentorship programmes to help girls acquire critical work and leadership skills and facilitate their transition from school to work;
- Revisions of school curricula to integrate positive messages on gender norms related to violence, child marriage, sexual and reproductive health, and male and female family roles.
“People hide under the cloak of culture and religion to do many things. We all should look at whether these are according to global best practices. Before a law is passed, you should ask yourself if this were to be my child would I allow it,” she says
Ogwezzy calls for continuous sensitisations and enlightenments that will result in a better informed nation. She also calls for the Child Right Act passed by the National Parliament in 2003 to be the benchmark for legislating on the girl child issues.
The university don says: “The girl child should take advantage of current opportunities now the world is beginning to see her gain. Go to school. Gone are the days when your parents say you should not go to school but go into your husband’s house.”
She calls on the girl child to discover her self worth and importance to nation building, adding, “Learn how to carry yourself, if your teacher is interested in you, you can turn him down politely.”
In his goodwill message to commemorate this day, UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, calls for improved investment in the girl child education in order to achieve a common future. Ki-moon identifies the importance of education in dislodging issues of discrimination and violence experienced by the girl child.
In his words: “Empowering girls, ensuring their human rights and addressing the discrimination and violence they face are essential to progress for the whole human family. One of the best ways to achieve all of these goals is to provide girls with the education they deserve.
“Yet too many girls in too many countries are held back simply because of their gender. Those whose mother was also deprived of an education, who lives in a poor community, or who have a disability face an even steeper climb. Among girls who do make it to school, many face discrimination and violence. I launched the Global Education First Initiative to accelerate progress in getting every child into school, especially girls. We are aiming to teach more than reading and counting; we are striving to raise global citizens who can rise to the complex challenges of the 21st century.
“To achieve meaningful results, we need fresh solutions to girls’ education challenges and we must heed the voices of young people. I have heard from girls around the world participating in the consultations for the new Girl Declaration. I resolve to ensure that Global Education First mobilizes all partners to respond to their powerful call for empowerment.
“More broadly, our campaign to reach the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 and shape a vision beyond that date must address the concerns and potential of the world’s girls.
“On this International Day of the Girl Child, let us work together to invest in education so that girls can advance in their personal development and contribute to our common future,” Ban Ki-moon says.
Two years ago, United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 66/170 to declare 11 October as the International Day of the Girl Child, to recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world. To mark the day last year, UN chose the theme: “Ending child marriage”