Girl Child Education – Challenges faced in the society
THE CHALLENGES OF GIRL-CHILD EDUCATION: A CASE STUDY OF JOS NORTH LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA
Girl Child Education has its challenge and the female gender is likewise plagued with UN-equality in every society today.
This study set out to analyse the challenges of girl-child education in Jos north local government area. The survey research method was adopted using questionnaire as instrument to elicit information from the respondents.
Findings from the analysis of the data gathered showed that several factors act as hindrances to girl-child education in Jos north local government area.
Such factors among others include poverty, sexual violence, sexual abuse, culture and religion. Findings further revealed that girl-child education is poor in Jos north local government area and also that the attitude to the education of the girl-child in Jos north local government is poor.
Data also showed that female children do not have access to education like their male counterparts in terms of education in Jos North Local Government Area and that the girl child from wealthy homes have more access to education than those from poor homes.
Based on the above findings, the study concluded that girl-child education is not given due recognition in Jos North Local Government Area.
The extent to which girl-child education is embraced in Jos North Local Government Area is poor.
It therefore recommended among others that, the government and the wealthy individuals should build more schools in local communities to enable the Nigerian girl-child have easy access to education at a subsidized cost and sensitize the schools on the special needs of the girl-child and that the government needs to make laws that will prohibit early marriage which mostly affect the female folk.
CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Education is a human right that should be given to all human beings.
There are lot of international human right instruments that provide for education as a fundamental human right which include the universal declaration of human right (1948), international convention on economic, social and cultural right (1960) etc.
The relationship between education and development is well established such that education is a lay index of development. Research has also shown that schooling improves productivity, health and reduces negative features of life such as child labour.
This is why there has been a lot of emphasis particularly in recent times for all citizens to have access to basic education. It has however been established by researchers that improving female education is crucial for national development.
Education is a basic human right and has been recognized as such since the 1948 adoption of the universal declaration of human rights. Since then, numerous human rights treaties have reaffirmed these rights and have supported entitlement to free compulsory primary education for all children.
In 1990 for example, the education for all (EFA) communication was launched to ensure that by 2015, all children particularly girls, those in difficult circumstances and those belonging to ethnic minorities have access to and complete free and compulsory primary education of good quality.
According to UNESCO report, about 90 million children are not in school and majority of them are children. Most girls do not have access to education despite the fact that it is their rights. The girl- child is often saddled with responsibilities, which may make her not to have access to quality education.
A 2007 UNESCO and UNICEF report addressed the issue of education from a rights-based approach. Three interrelated rights were specified and must be addressed in concert in order to provide education for all. The three interrelated rights are:
a. The right of access to education. That is, education must be available for, accessible to and inclusive of all children.
b. The right to quality education: Education needs to be child-centred, relevant and embrace a broad curriculum and be appropriately resourced and monitored.
c. The right to respect within the learning environment: Education must be provided in a way that is consistent with human rights, equal for culture, religion and language and free from all forms of violence.
Beyond the basic needs for education to support one’s self and family in later years, many social ills occur in the vacuum of free and accessible education. UNICEF underscored the link between child labour and a lack of education in their 2008 education for all global monitoring reports, over 100 million children was account for 70 percent of all child labourer, work in agriculture. In rural areas where access to schools, availability of trained teachers and educational supplies is severely limited.
Though, the education gap runs much deeper than a rural-urban divide. Even in urban areas poor and marginalized children are able to benefit from greater access to school facilities because of cost, caste and culture.
Also lock of free education encourages sexual exploitation of children. Some orphans turn to prostitution to earn the money for school fees and in the process, contract HIV/AIDS. For many parents who are dying of HIV/AIDS, the greatest worry on their minds is who will pay for the schools, supplies uniforms for their children once they have passed? No parent or child should face such a terrible choices or worries.
It is true that many governments make provision for the education of their citizens but the provisions most of the time do not take into cognizance the peculiarities of the girl. In that case, the girl-child may not have access to education, which is a fundamental human right. Research has shown that millions of girls do not have access to schools despite the concerted efforts to push the cause forward.
Okeke, Nzewi and Njoku (2008) identify child labour, poverty and lack of sponsorship, quest for wealth, bereavement, truancy, broken home, engagement of children and house helps as factors or the clog in the wheel of girl’s access to education. The right to education, which is a fundamental human right, is frequently denied to girls in some African countries.
The then United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan, stated that in Africa, when families have to make a choice due to limited resources of either a girl or a boy child, 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 young age so that they can get the additional income they may need to exist beyond subsistence level and finance the education of sons.
Abdulahi in Maduagwu and Mohammed (2006) notes that the importance of education in the life of an individual cannot be over emphasized. Central to the most basic problems facing the girl-child is her access to qualitative education. This is because without education, the realization of all other rights e.g socio-economic and political rights becomes impossible. In the typical Nigerian setting, education of the girl-child has not received serious attention.
The general apathy in this regard especially among unlettered parents has to do with the materialistic concept of education, that is, the belief that the girl-child will eventually marry and leave the family with whatever material benefits derivable from her education to her husband’s home. They would rather prefer to invest in the education of the male child who is expected to marry in the family name (Adewale, 1997).
Traditionally, the role of women has been that of home maintenance and rearing of children. Right from childhood, the girl-child is prepared and trained with the ability of cooking, learning and all kinds of chores in the home, all directed towards a better house wife. The gender role type thus, pose a bias against the girls by the society.
By and large, the predicament of the Nigerian girl-child is enormous. Thus, in Nigeria, the girl-child is faced with a lot of problems and constraints, which act as serious impediments towards her self-realization. It is therefore in line with the above that the researcher intends to ascertain the challenges the girl-child faces in terms of education with Jos North Local Government Area as an area of study.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Education is seen as the process of acquiring skills, knowledge etc which will help an individual to perform better in a society. It is the process of transmitting values, cultures, etc from one generation to the other. Education is seen as a human right that should be given to all human beings. There is however no doubt that the women folk have suffered depression and neglect in the pat of which they are regarded as second class citizens in so many ways including their choice of disciplines to under go in school.
Girls and women constitute 50% of Nigeria’s population. Ironically, less than 39% of the total female populations are literates as against 63% literate male population. This is because in most societies, it is still considered irrelevant to send the girl-child to school.
The issue is about the girl child. She is the dawn, the bedrock and the future of any nation or society aspiring for sustainable development. However, she has continued to be the subject of rejection, marginalization and deprivation. In Nigeria, the predicaments of the girl child are better imagined. They rear their ugly heads in the area of denial of access to quality education, good health, survival and incidence of child labour, child trafficking, prostitution and ritual sacrifices.
Against this backdrop, it becomes pertinent to ask: what are the challenges of girl-child education in Jos north local government area.
Thus, the problem this study seeks to investigate is the challenges the girl-child faces in an attempt to be educated.
The above problem forms the basis for the study.
1.3 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
The broad objective of this study is to assess the challenges of girl-child education in Jos North Local Government Area of Plateau State. Specifically however, the study aims at:
a. Ascertaining the extent to which girl-child education is embraced in Jos North Local Government Area.
b. Finding out the extent to which the girl- child has access to education in Jos North local Government Area.
c. Finding out the factors (if any), which impede the effective education of girl child in Jos North Local Government Area.
d. The study is also aimed at making recommendations based on the finding.
e. Contributing to the reservoir of knowledge in the field of education where future researchers can easily consult.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
Based on the problem and the purpose of the study stated above, the following research questions will be drawn to guide the study:
a. What are the factors which hinder the effective education of the girl –` child in Jos North Local Government Area?
b. To what extent is girl-child education embraced in Jos North Local Government Area?
c. To what extent does the female child have access to education in Jos North Local Government Area.
d. What is the level of effectiveness of the girl-child education in Jos North Local Government Area.
1.8 OPERATIONAL DEFINITIONS OF TERM
The following key terms will be defined:
a. Education: Education is the process of providing information to an inexperienced person to help him or her develop physically, mentally, socially, emotionally, spiritually, politically and economically. It means the process of helping an individual to acquire adequate and appropriate knowledge, skills and attitudes and values known as cognitive, psychomotor and affective behaviours to be able to function optimally as a citizen.
b. The girl-child: The girl child is a biological female offspring from birth to eighteen (18) years of age. It is the age before one becomes young adult. This period covers the crèche, nursery or early childhood (0 – 5years) primary (6 – 12). During this period, the young child is totally under the care of the adult who may be her parents or guardians and older siblings. It is made up of infancy, childhood, early and adolescent stages of development. During this period, the girl child is malleable, builds and develops her personality and character.
She is very dependent on the significant others, those on whom she models her behaviour through observation, repetition and imitation. Her physical, mental, social, spiritual and emotional developments start and progress to get to the peak at the young adult stage. The girl-child simply refers to the female child that has not reached the age of Adult.
c. Challenges: The term can simply be referred to as obstacles, hindrances that stand on the way of someone. They are those things that prevent someone from achieving certain goals. Challenges could also mean problems. That is, the problems that one is passing through.
d. Informal education: It is the type of educational system in which someone acquires knowledge, skills, etc under one’s native culture.
e. Formal education: It is the type that takes place in a formal setting, where you have a teacher who is professionally trained to teach. This is the type of education we find in our primary, secondary and tertiary institutions.
f. Non-formal education: This is the type of education that is neither formal nor informal.
g. Socio-cultural: It simply refers to the people’s way of life and their belief.
h. Gender: This is the sum of cultural values, attitude, roles, practices and characteristics of attributes based on sex.
This chapter reviews the literature related to the study. Thought, there is enough literature on education, there is a general dearth of literature on girl-child education. This however makes the researcher to review or refer to general works on education and girl-child education, which we believe is capable of enhancing our understanding and handling of the chosen topic.
To successfully accomplish the task of reviewing such literatures, this chapter has been divided into various units. These include a conceptual clarification, girl-child education and culture, girl-child education in Nigeria society, factors that hinder girl-child education, the role of women educators, and the role of education in development of an individual.
2.2 EDUCATION AS A CONCEPT
Education as a concept has refused to yield itself to a generally acceptable definition. This is because people use education to mean different things at different times. Generally education is perceived as a continuous process of learning from the birth of an individual till his death. In some cases, people use education as a process, as a product, as an enterprise and as a discipline.
This explains why Adomeh (2004: 268) notes that defining education may not be as easy as people think (most). The reason according to Adomeh is that every one who puts forth a definition is viewing the concept from a particular perspective.
Thus, the result is that different persons have put many definitions forward. But by and large, education is any attempt made to impart knowledge on another person. It could also mean the transmission of knowledge from one person to another or from the society to its members or from one culture to another. Whether one is conscious of it or not whenever he experiences a novelty or learns a new thing, he is being educated.
Thus, whenever men and women interact with one another, they are influencing each other. This is why education is considered as a continuous process as long as one lives.
Thus, when education is viewed from this perspective, it becomes a product. Education in several terms is the process of transmitting social lores, values and desirable attitudes from one generation to another.
Education seeks to socialize individuals so as to equip them with the desired mode of behaviour that is in conformity with the society in which they live. Education is the process of training, teaching and learning in schools and colleges for the development of knowledge and skills so as to prepare individuals to live happily with themselves and others in the society where they live. (NTI Module, undated)
According to Chandan (1976), education is the process of shapping individual’s behaviour for adequate adjustment in the society. Fafunwa (1974) sees education as the aggregate of all the processes through which a child develops abilities, attitudes and other forms of behaviour which are of positive value to society.
To Nwangu (1976), education is the process by which every society attempts to preserve and upgrade the accumulated knowledge, skills and attitudes in its cultural setting and heritage in order to foster continuously the well being of mankind and guarantee its survival against the unpredictable hostile and destructive elements and forces of man and nature.
According to Essien (1975), we have been accustomed to think of education and of the educated in terms of the very restrictive labels of engineers, mathematicians, doctors, nurse rather than those of citizens.
Qualities of mind and a knowledge of the purpose of life are the twin requirements of an educational experience that turn acquired skills and knowledge into citizenship service. An educational system should be capable of generating some kind of humanity and enable those who pass through it to identify purposefully with the goals of their society.
Still reflecting on education, Fasanya (1969) believes that it is a method of leading people out of ignorance. It is a means of socializing human beings. It may involve the bringing up of a child in the community and constantly training him to adjust himself to the changing world around him. It is a life long process.
He later went on to argue that education varies in its content and method with different societies in the world. Correspondly, the aims of education varies both with time and from place to place. In this case another may regard what one may cherish as wisdom as foolishness.
In another development, Okolo (1989) believes that to other educationists, education has a lot to do with culture, its knowledge, utilization and transmission.
Ukeje (1986) defines education as the process or means of which the individual is acclimatized to the culture or environment in which he is born in order to advanced it. Education consequently is essentially connected with culture and the full development of individuals and their various talents.
Thus, education is the sharing and transfer of knowledge, the development of new knowledge based on learning and understanding that is desirable. He went on to comment to some current perception of education by Nigerians.
A critical analysis of the various definitions shows that the whole essence of education is to endue the individual with the knowledge, abilities, skills or behaviour to enable them function in their immediate environment and the society at large. Education brings about a desirable change in behaviour.
Thus, to learn is to change, to be educated is to be affected positively. Education changes the learner. All the definitions given to far are all in their stand on a positive change in human behaviour as a mark of good education.
Education is a process of teaching the members of the society how they are expected to behave in a variety of selected situations. This means that education deals with the development of the changes in human behaviour. It is a cultural process, the way in which each new born human infant is transformed into a full member of a specific human society. Hence, education is a process by which societies perpetuate or renew themselves.
Education is the aggregate of all the processes by which a child or young adult develops the abilities, attitudes and other forms of behaviour which are of positive values to the society in which he lives, that is to say, it is a process of transmitting culture in terms of continuity and growth and for disseminating knowledge either to ensure social control or to guarantee rational direction of the society or both.
There is no doubt that education involves showing the evidence of knowledge and breadth of understanding. These two terms however show that we are not just talking of mere recitation of information and the acquisition of skills, but these information and skills should have been internalized and that the educated should be able to make sense of them.
We talk of breadth of understanding because the knowledge of the educated should cut across a wide spectrum of human interest and endeavour and not just a narrow field. The educated men or women should behave in the values of truth, rationality and autonomy.
Because of the value of truth and nationality, we educate people rather than indoctrinate or merely train them. It is only the educated man or woman that can autonomously pursue the goals of truth and rationality. Thus, the educated man is knowledgeable, can use knowledge in the most acceptable and appropriate manner and comfort himself into an acceptable level with the society’s code of conduct.
2.3 TYPES OF EDUCATION
Over times, it has become generally acceptable that education exists in two different forms. These are the formal and the informal systems of education. However, there is a third form of education which is no less important than the first two forms.
That is, the non-formal system of education. Adomeh (2004:267) however concurs when he said that “to have a better understanding of what education is, we need to classify it into its traditional types namely, formal and informal”. The informal type is the one that takes place at any form of encounter that leads to the acquisition of new knowledge. In other words, anything you learn outside a specially defined setting for that purpose should be regard as education and the receptor of such knowledge could be called the educated.
In the case of the former, there must be a sitting for it and a defined goal to be achieved. The process is set in motion for the acquisition of specified knowledge and the end result becomes the product of education. Since the fruit of education must be made manifest on the part of the receptor, to be classed and educated person, an individual must be seen to behave accordingly.
However, Ojih in Ojiafor and Unachukwu (1996:159) identifies three major forms of education namely:
a. Informal Education
b. Formal Education
c. Non-formal Education
a. Informal Education: The informal education on the other hand is carried on in a relaxed environment usually within the home setting. Learners acquired skills through continuous practice, hence it is said that the process of transmitting skills is based on imitation, recitation, practice and trial and error. There is absence of a formal examination procedure unlike the kind that we do have within the school system.
Those charged with the business of instruction are usually family members and or close relations. There also exists the prevalence of the apprenticeship system. Reading and writing are absent. This form of education is traditional and indigenous. In this form of education, the child is brought up in the way of his native culture. This form of education involves:
i. Developing intellectual skill.
ii. Developing character and morality in the child.
iii. Developing the latent physical skill in the child.
iv. Developing in the child a sense of belonging and making him participate in all that is done in the family and community.
v. Inculcating in the child the urge to respect elders and constituted authority.
vi. Making the child acquire a useful vocation or skill.
vii. Helping the child to understand, appreciate and promote the inherited culture of the community. In informal or traditional education, the yardstick of an “educated” man is his morals, manners, obedience to authority, and respect for the custom, conventions, rules and laws of the group together with unquestioning acceptance of the groups’ beliefs, values and religious practices.
b. Formal Education: Formal education is that kind of education in which the system of instruction is done in a formal environment specifically designated for it. This system of education involves reading, writing, examination, promotion and withdrawal. In addition, there are teachers specifically hired to carry out the process of instruction.
There exists learners who have been recruited based on certain criteria and there exists also a hierarchical system of instruction in formal schools. Lastly, formal education emphasizes certification as the end product of the learning process.
This is the type of education that was introduced into Nigeria by the Christian Missions, which arrived in the country between 1842 and 1960. It involves the activities of a teacher, a learner and an organized curriculum. It takes place in a formal setting and the teacher must be professionally trained to teach. This is the type of education we find in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions.
c. Non-formal Education: The non-formal system of education combines the features of both the formal and informal systems. Examples of these are seminars, conferences, symposia, workshops, to mention a few.
Although the process of instruction takes place, but most of the time those who are in attendance are contemporaries. Ideas are mainly shared and individual experiences enriched. Examinations are not taken at the end of instructions. In some cases certificate of participation may be awarded. The environment from which this kind of education takes place is usually relaxed.
This type of education is neither formal nor informal. It involves types of enlightenment programmes. Basically, education can be located in these three forms of education aforementioned.
In Nigeria, these three systems of education exist side by side. Their end product is to enrich the experience of the learners and to bring about a more positive change in their behaviours, in a sustained manner, thus being better equipped to cope with the challenges of nature.
2.4 CHARACTERISTICS OF EDUCATION
i. It is a process: By this it is meant that education is an on-going activity. It is not something that begins and ends once for all time, rather it is a life-long process, it begins as soon as an individual is born and ends at the point of death. Hence, the saying that “education begins at the cradle and ends at the grave”.
ii. It is a product of interaction: It results mainly through the exchange of ideas and association between two or more individuals in most cases.
iii. It involves the internalization of ideas: That is, it involves assimilation and retention of knowledge and values in such a way that their contents are recalled for use from time to time. Hence, it has been argued that education involves learning, that is, a relatively permanent change in the behaviour of individuals arising from experience.
iv. Educational process involves a medium: This could be an animate object like man or inanimate objects like the television, newspaper, environment charged with the transmission of the knowledge or the general content of what is to be learnt.
v. It involves a change in behaviour: Through the internalization of ideas and values which has taken place, an individual is transformed into a more positive functional state better equipped to cope with the challenges of living.
2.5 FUNCTIONS OF EDUCATION
In a well articulated statement by Julius Nyere, he summed up the functions of education in the following way, “to transmit from one generation to the next, the accumulated wisdom and knowledge of the society and to prepare the young people for their active participation in this maintenance of development to liberate both the mind and the body of man”.
According to Anderson, this long definition can be broken down to relate to specific tasks which education (specifically formal education) performs. These are:
i. Basic literacy: It is mainly through the formal educational systems that individuals are taught how to read and write. This function is not limited to children alone, rather adults of various grades and even the old also benefit from this facility through adult education programme.
ii. It is also an important agent of socialization, shaping values and attitudes to the needs of contemporary society. It widens the mental horizons of pupils and teaches them new ways of looking at themselves and their societies.
3. It is an agent of promoting a better understanding of societal tradition and for the development of local customs in the form of arts, music and literature.
iii. It is an agent of national integration: This is because, education has been used in the past to politicize future citizens through the inculcation of a common culture and by the missions to foster religious conversion.
iv. It is both a direct and an indirect means of training the future labour force, hence its importance in manpower planning and in the production of the requisite manpower needs of a society.
v. Education acts as a strong force in the preservation of the status quo and in resisting social change. For example, education can be used as a tool to mobilize the populace to resist some attempts aimed at changing the total society or some parts of it because such a change is perceived as detrimental if education is more often used in the area of enlightenment of the public as an agent of social change, not to resist it.
vi. Education is an agent of social change. In Nigeria today, education more than ever before is being used to open up the citizens’ thoughts in order to make them appreciate important changes in society such as education for the prevention of aids disease. Population control measures and appreciating the ideals of democratization through the activities of various wars against indiscipline and corruption.
2.6 CRITERIA FOR JUDGING WHAT TO LEARN
There are certain criteria for judging what all students ought to learn. However, the most important ones as identified by Ajala in Maduagwu and Mohammed (2006) are:
a. Education for knowledge
b. Education for human meaning
c. Education for work and productivity
d. Education for social responsibility.
e. Education for childhood enrichment.
By implication, other criteria such as the demands of university admission (Joint Admission and Matriculation Board. JAMB). What is currently taught or the structure of a particular science discipline for example, technology, computer or health (Science) education can and should be relevant as well.
a. EDUCATION FOR KNOWLEDGE: Knowledge of the world around us. Knowledge for its own sake, not for its utilitarian value-still remains a major purpose of general education.
There are simply things about the world, including us and our works that educated people ought to know. We may not be able to agree always on just what this fundamental knowledge is in every detail, and to be sure, claims for absolute and immutable knowledge are no longer coin of the realm.
Yet not all knowledge is of equal importance, and some, at any particular time, would seem to be so significant than no other justifications. “Practical” or otherwise, would be necessary to set it out as part of the common core of education.
Such knowledge may be, by its nature, historical, political, aesthetic, mathematical or whatever. But, if the focus is on “scientific knowledge” is here taken in its fullest sense and meant to include some understanding of the “modus operandi”, impact, limitations, values and history of science, as well as of its conclusions about the nature of the world. Similarly, “technological development, of how technologies do what they do and of their expected and unexpected impacts.
b. Education for human meaning: Throughout recorded history, if not longer, certain enduring questions of human existence have persisted. Each new generation has had to confront anew the main questions of life and death, of who we are, where we are, and where we are headed. These questions and the themes and dilemmas of everyday life-perception and reality, freedom and responsibility, individual and community, and the life are found in one form or another, in every culture in every age.
During the last three centuries, the contexts in which these questions and themes have presented themselves have changed, “often radically and rapidly, due largely to the impact of science and technology. Thus it may be possible to justify certain science and technology knowledge as part of the essential content of general education on the grounds of its relevance to questions of meaning and human curiosity.
C. Education for work and productivity: As a practical matter, the schools are also expected to prepare students for a changing and elusive job market, and for making useful contributions to the greater economic and security needs of our nation in a competitive world.
In this context, the questions become: Which specific elements of science education-knowledge of key scientific laws and principles, a sense of how nature works, inquiry skills, quantitative thinking skills, an ability to learn new technical materials, attitude towards knowledge, a regard for precision or whatever contributes most to an enhancement of the secondary school graduate’s value to the economy and of his or her long-term employment prospect? Which technological skills, attitudes towards the use of new technologies, and knowledge of the fundamentals of technological processes do all future worker need?
What can science teach us that would help develop a sense of having control over our occupational and economic future?
D. Education for social responsibility: Whatever else it does, education should also prepare students for informed participation in a democratic society, enabling them to act responsibly in the light of values and demands implicit in freedom. Creating a social fabric that is once both open to change and stability is becoming increasingly difficult in every part of the world and for the Nigerian society at least is something that demands more than the attention of a small-educated elite.
More and more the issues confronting our citizens-waste disposal, population, pollution, public opinion polling and a hundred more implicate science and technology as part of the problem and part of the solution. What knowledge, skills and attitudes from the domains of science and technology are central to the preparation of tomorrow’s citizens of Nigeria and the whole world?
E. Education for childhood enrichment: Most children spend a dozen years of their lives in primary and secondary schools. That is a substantial fraction of their lifespan, and a very special one at that. Childhood is a time of life that is important for its own sake, for the value of what happens then and there and not solely for what it may lead to later in life. Not all of childhood is preparation for adulthood, it is also for living.
Schooling should help young people learn how to gain deep and lasting satisfactions from their lives, and help them develop the insights and skills they need to deal effectively with their existing problem solving skills that youngster can use right away. The question then becomes, what science is most suitable for organizing around the interests and concerns of primary and secondary school students?
2.7 HINDERANCES TO GIRL-CHILD EDUCATION
The girl-child from birth may be considered a costly guest in her house. Her schooling is a waste of time and money and she is differently trained only for her role as a bearer of many children. A girl born into the family is received with mixed feeling while baby boy is considered a source of joy and pride to such families.
Some parents hold the view that it is better to have more boys than girls. Therefore it is better for them to spend more time and money on the education of boys than girls, this summarizes the predicament of the girl-child as conceived by some families in some parts of Nigeria.
Garba (2000) notes that for girls, their gender alone may keep their home locked in subsistence works or so isolated in the classroom that they become discouraged and drop out.
In Nigeria, fewer girls than boys are withdrawn from school for early marriage and the fact that they often assist in housework more than boys, they may not have time to study when they come home from school. Free access to quality education is the right of every child without expectation or discrimination on gender basis.
The vision of educational equality enshrined in the convention on the right of the child extends to issues of gender equality, equity, breath and nutrition; it also demands that schools ensure decent sanitation facilities and respectful environment for girls. According to Adewole (1997), the girl child has not been given any serious reckoning in education in the traditional Nigerian setting. He believed that one of the factors responsible for this is the materialistic conception of education.
The factors responsible for lack of girl-child education in Nigeria as identified by Mohammed in Maduagwu and Mohammed (2006) are:
1. Economic factors: Nigeria as an independent entity is undoubtedly characterized by very harsh economic conditions. This has resulted into scarce resources. As a result of this, choice has to be made between whom to send to school. Most often, it is the girl-child that remains at home. Due to poverty, girls get withdrawn from schools so as to help to supplement family income through hawking, trading or even working on the farm so as to support the family. In some cases, the girls are given out as house helps or even sent into early marriage because of huge bride price. Often, it is such girls that fall victims of VVF as a result of immaturity. Husbands are known to have abandoned such young wives to their faith when this happens. Thus, poverty remains one of the largest barriers to access to education by the girl-child. Paying school fees is impossibility for many families struggling to make ends meet, especially in light of the ongoing food crisis
According to UNESCO, children from poor, indigenous and disabled populations are at a systematic disadvantage as are those living in slums. Additionally, girls are likely to have access to education. UNESCO noted that this is due to sexual violence, insecure school environments and inadequate sanitations that adversely affect girls’ self esteem, participation and retention. According to world Bank (2003), more than 350 million people, over half Africa’s population, live below the poverty line of one dollar a day. This implies that poverty too, excludes children, including the girl-child from school.
2. Sexual violence and abuse: This also hampers the girls from going to school. Due to this fear of sexual violence, most parents deny their girl-children access to school.
3. Political factors: Despite Nigeria’s signatory to various international conventions on the right of the children generally, so far, very little has been achieved. The situation remains pathetic and serious. For instance, at the formation of the United Nations which is almost six (6) decades old, the precarious situation of the children worldwide became so obvious that it became necessary to establish UNICEF with special focus on the needs of the children around the world. It is rather sad to note that for almost six (6) decades after UNICEF, children’s problems are far from solved, especially in the LCDs like Nigeria. The situation is best captured in the following observation:
There is a sense of powerlessness in our children. They are marginalized. There is a lot of apathy on the government. They (children) are afraid, with a lot of uncertainty, confusion etc…. all of these combine to give the child a cloudy and hopeless future.
The import is that the Nigerian government only pays lip service and lacks the political will to implement policies on children. A case in point is the Nigerian Child Right Bill at the National Assembly.
4. The school environmental factors: Often most parents are scared of sending their female children to school in distant places and would rather keep them at home. According to Umar (1997), Curricular, textbooks and other learning materials are usually gender-biased. She opines that right from childhood, girls are channeled into stereotyped traditional carrier in form of textbooks illustrations and stores, consequently leading to the development of poor self-image at a tender age. Also, sexual harassments during educational pursuit create serious emotional and psychological strain on the girl child.
5. Socio-cultural and religious factors: In most African societies, especially in Nigeria, the role of the girl as a wife and mother is conceived as the utmost priority not only by her parents, but also by the girl-child herself. However, in the Nigerian context, gender discrepancy in education is sustained by cultural factors. This wrong notion that her place is in the kitchen, to be seen and not to be heard has had very serious implications on the girl-child’s ability at self-actualization. Umar (1997) notes that out of the 130 million children in LCDs without access to education, 81 million are girls. Also, certain cultural and traditional practices like female circumcision, early marriage etc are to say the least unprogressive, because they lead not only to absenteeism, distraction, but also to eventual dropout of girls.
More so, the ethics and values of some religions do not help matters, as they are often perceived with tremendous suspicions.
It has been reported in BBC News (2009) that African patriarchal societal viewpoint favours boys over girls because boys maintain the family lineage. Additional reasons why girls do not have adequate access to education in Africa include the fact that many have to stay at home to nurse those of their relatives with HIV/AIDS. That their mothers were not educated is another reason that makes them feel that their daughters do not need education. Further more, some families do not believe in education of girls. Mwangi (2004) notes that a combination of poverty discusses and backward cultural practices continue to deny the girl-child her right to education. He noted that even with the introduction of free primary education, access to education still remains a wide dream to many Kenyan children especially girls. Mwangi notes thus:
Despite the introduction of free primary education in the country, which accounted for an increase in enrolment, a sizeable number of children, especially girls, still find themselves out of school owing to a number of reasons. These reasons are: demands for their labour in the homes such as assisting in looking after younger siblings, child marriage, doing house chores, death of mother and looking after the sick member of the family. Some girls are given to marriage against their wish and when they refuse, they are threatened with death, the children are given to marriage at a very tender age in quest of dowry from the husband.
Some parents justify the denial of girls of their rights to education to prevent them from bringing shame to the family through early pregnancy. Yet, others believe that women who are at the same level of education as the men are a disgrace to the community because more often than not, they will not get married and if they do, it will be to a foreigner. For such parents, early marriage is the best way to prevent this and at the same time, preserve traditions.
Cole (1998) notes that some cultures define women as after thoughts inferior to men, good only for domestic work. There is therefore a wide range of cultural factors that influence the low level of women participation in education. It is worthy of note that women begin as girls before they are eventually called women. Hence, some cultural issues influencing the level of involvement of girls in education have been characterized by Cole to include the following:
a. Socialization pattern: Traditionally, in Nigeria women are assigned with the role of managing home while men are considered as the brain or bread winner of the family.
However, with the coming of western education, boys were enrolled in schools and girls remained at home to cater for the younger ones and perform domestic works. When women education was eventually considered, it was limited in scope and the subject centered around domestic science, child and mother, craft, home management etc. While boys offer courses that were remarked as unfeminine, but purely scientific. In addition, Nigerian culture does not regard highly educated women as good wives but gives credit to illiterates and half educated women as good home managers and children bearers. All these lower the involvement on the girl child in science education.
. Community role: Child rearing practices in parts of Nigeria contribute to what girls/women become in life. Parents often use some words as independent, strong, courageous, capable, serious etc. to describe boys behavior. While soft, fragile, wear, lazy, dependent, are used in qualifying girls’ behaviours. Expectedly, girls socialize into conforming to the unscientific and segregating children personality concepts. Also in the home, boys are encouraged to engage in activities that will motivate their interest in science. They play footballs, catapult, fly kites, make bows and arrows, wrestle or engage in tug of war. While girl congregates in he play ground with unscientific games like tem-tem, dancing, cooking, curdling, barking babies, which are not logical and scientific, whereas boys’ activities promote science learning.
c. Marriage: Early marriage is a depressing phenomenon for women education in science disciplines. Girls who go into marriage early deny themselves of the opportunity of education. Boys are therefore more available for education since they are not affected by early marriage phenomenon. This cultural practice serves as a setback for women in education.
d. Religion: Both Christian and Islamic doctrine encouraged women to be taught more in area that make them good mothers and wives. The Purdah system practiced in Islamic religion was the extreme case of shielding women from science education and western civilization and subjecting them to bondage, in science class, girls were denied the opportunity of gaining knowledge and skills like boys who were favoured traditionally to study science. These affect women’s participation in science adversely.
6. Poverty: The right to education, which is a fundamental human right, is frequently denied to girls in most African countries. The former United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan, stated that in Africa, when families have to make a choice due to limited resources of educating either a girl or a boy child, it is always the boy that is chosen to attend school. In Africa, many girls are prevented from getting education entitled to them because families often send their daughters out to work at a young age so that they can get the additional income they may need to exist beyond subsistence levels and finance education of sons.
7. Self as an impediment: This focuses on the girl herself as the first major problem. A lot has to be done by the girl to free herself to fulfill her aspiration and impact in the society positively. Women who have made it in education are those who believed in themselves, therefore beating the odds to be where they are. Self-image is the foundation for the development of the individual woman (Russell, 1979). The other factors that are important in self-actualization are motivations ambition, tenacity and determination, awareness and willingness to learn. All these are however contingent on overcoming the problems from within and assuring oneself. Girls do not have to accept the lie that they are a deformed category of humans but like their male brothers, are richly endowed and can excel at whatever they set their minds to do.
Based on the foregoing, it is our opinion that Nigeria can borrow a leaf from the practical experience of America with respect to the treatment of the Nigerian girl-child. Consequently, the social-economic challenges to pose to the Nigerian parents, Government and the Civil Society are as identified by Abdulahi in Maduagwu and Mohammed (2006) are highlighted as follows.
The Nigerian parents: There is the presumption that (with exemption in some cases), couples through mutual cooperation decide to bring a child to the world with the full comprehension of the implications of their act with respect to the provision of basic necessities that will make the child live a decently and actualize their full potentials in all aspects of their lives, be it economic, social, education or health-wise. Unfortunately, in Nigeria, parents have left most of their responsibilities at the doorsteps of the governments with respects to the welfare provision for the children. However, government alone cannot provide everything, especially in the area of education and health needs of the child. The challenge facing parents in the new millennium is the need for a cultural revolution in our conception for parental role in child upbringing and family relationship generally. If this is done, then the new millennium will witness an end to the abuse and infringement of the various rights of the girl-child in expressing themselves as is done in America. Their feeble voices should be accorded due respect as human beings.
The Nigerian government: As the custodian of laws and orders, the government has the duty to ensure that all the international conventions on the rights of the children, especially the girl-child are honoured. In this respect, one crucial area of responsibility of the government is in enlightenment campaigns with respect to education and health issues. This is because, some parents may have the resources to undertake these things, but without the awareness, there is very little they can achieve.
Also government investment in education and health is very crucial. In Nigeria today, these two very important sectors have suffered serious under-funding. In the area of education for example, UNESCO’s recommendation is that 15% of the Gross National Product (GNP) should be allocated in any country. The health sector has not feared well either. This brings us to the issue with respect to the amount of investment the government puts into the health sector vis-à-vis children’s right to good health. For instance, in Nigeria, the child mortality rate has been put at 115 per 1000 births, with infant mortality at under 87 per 1000 births, whereas the WHO standard put infant mortality at under 5per 1000 births. (Adewole, 1996).
The Nigerian civil society: There are a number of harmful traditional practices in Nigeria which still exist despite the level of technological development which affect the general welfare of the girl-child, e.g. female genital mutilation, son preference, early marriage, food allocation that discriminate against the girl-child, etc. The Civil Society has crucial roles to play in this respect if the rights of the girl-child are going to witness a new revolution in the new millennium. It is useful to stress that children belong to the general members of the society and not the actual parents alone. Therefore, their welfare should be of utmost concern to all and sundry. This being the case, the civil society should come together to change all those harmful practices that are injurious and which threatens the very existence of the girl-child. In order words, the greatest challenge facing the civil society in the new millennium is the need for an overhaul of our cultural practices through sieving out the harmful and obsolete ones, while improving the good ones to meet the United Nations’ objectives and the global challenges in the actualization and achieving concrete results on the rights of the girl-child in particular, and children in general in the new millennium. (Abdulahi in Maduagwu and Mohammed, 2006).
2.8 NATIONAL EDUCATION POLICY
The objectives of the national education policy are:
1. Free and democratic society
A free society is a society where the individuals do not suffer restraints or interference. That is, the individuals are not prevented from doing what they want t o do. However, in exercising this freedom, the individuals should consider the interests or freedom of others, for, the limit of the freedom entails that the individual must be able to exercise self-control. That is, control on passions, desires, etc. Although, we expect the individuals in a society to have freedom, there can never be absolute freedom. Absolute freedom would lead to anarchy. This is why in any society, there are laws which tend to limit individual’s freedom to ensure more freedom.
Just like freedom, democracy has the following characteristics or attributes:
i. All men possess certain inalienable rights.
ii. All humans are to be regarded equal in certain respects.
iii. Democracy implies faith in human intelligence
iv. Democracy preserves and enhances individual freedom
v. Democracy grants the right to peaceful dissent
2. A JUST AND EGALITARIAN SOCIETY
Another aspect in the national goals which forms the basis of the Nigerian Philosophy of Education is the clause which talks about “a just and egalitarian society”. A just and egalitarian society entails justices and fairness. We can never talk effectively about justice or egalitarianism without talking about fairness. In other words, in what ever we do or say, we must be fair to all. The principle of fairness to all is the principle of equity. Equity demands fairness to all at times. But, life is such that it is practically impossible to be fair to all. This being so, for any action executed, there must be acceptable justification by the majority of the society. There lies equity.
Another aspect in the clause is equality. All men are equal before God. All men should therefore be treated equally and as important. No man should ever be treated as a slave. But can every person be treated equally at all times, reasonably. If there are sufficient reasons, equity demands that people should equally be treated differently and unequally, for a failure to do so, amounts to injustice. In proposing the two important elements in the principle of equality, Ocho (1988) submits that:
i. Those that must treat people differently must produce reasonable and acceptable reasons.
ii. All people should be considered as of equal importance and their opinions treated equally seriously.
3. A GREAT AND DYNAMIC ECONOMY
Another laudable intention in the national philosophy of education is building “a great and dynamic economy”. “ A great and dynamic economy” can never be achieved in a mono-economy like ours. A nation that depends on exportation of oil as the major source of revenue without adequate production can never be a great economy. A nation that depends on buying and selling, strives on importation of fake and adulterated goods, indulges in foreign borrowing, slashes her money in foreign accounts etc, can never boast of a great and dynamic economy. However, one of the national goals implies that the Nigerian State shall put in place, a favourable environment through democratic process that will bring about positive changes. The economy will be liberalized. Production encouraged. Agriculture and other sectors, other than oil, encouraged to improve the national economy. The enabling environment that would encourage individual (private) and foreign investment in all the sectors of the economy, certainly would build “a great and dynamic economy”.
4. BUILDING A UNITED, STRONG AND SELF-RELIANT NATION AND “A LAND OF BRIGHT AND FULL OPPORTUNITIES FOR ALL CITIZENS:
To build a United country entails that every Nigerian should contribute to the development or up-liftment of the country. The document envisages a united country where every Nigerian would be his brother’s keeper irrespective of religion, ethnicity or social background. It envisages a country that will be strong in defending its territory, a country that defends the rights of her people and upholds the integrity and dignity of its citizens able to provide basic amenities and provide social securities.
Presently, many Nigerians do not have faith in the country because they have no confidence in the entity. The leaders in particular have no confidence in the country and themselves hence, they snash away Nigerian wealth illegally acquired in foreign countries. To a very large extent, the Nigerian economy is still directed and dominated by the West and the Americans even after decades of the so call “political independence”. We have lost faith in ourselves, we have become more than ever before, mutually suspicious of one another. No respect for culture, industry and honesty. Our values have been misplaced and we still go about borrowing.
The land is bright but not full of opportunities. Unemployment reigns in the land. Crimes of all sorts have taken over the streets. Many Nigerians cannot go to the university because of their inability to finance it or access it.
2.9 WOMEN AND EDUCATION
UNICEF says that going to school will transform the life of a girl- child. It will offer her learning and an expanded sense of her own potential, increasing herself-confidence, her social and negotiation skills, her earning power and her ability to protect herself against violence and ill health. Education will open up the world to her. Clinton (1996) says:
“I believe that women have the same God given potentials as men and that women should be given the tools of opportunity, education and health so that young girls are able to have some authority over their own lives because women have as much diversity in their feelings, their hearts, their minds as men do, and that women should be given opportunities in every society to fulfill their potentials and should have a role in determining that potential that is gotten from the women right convention magazine.
The Government in Kano wrote this about the girl child education: It is regrettable that even though there has been a continuous awareness of women’s education over the years, our educational leaders have only succeeded in paying lip services to it. So far, no positive action has been taken to show society the importance of women education. The education authorities should first convince themselves before others. If the system of women and girls education is to be carried out on successful lines. The wives and daughters of the educated class must first be educated.
Equal rights for women, and full participation for women in all spheres of social life are a necessity for the full and complete development of a country, the welfare of the world and the cause of peace. Yet, of all the violations of human rights, the cost systematic, widespread and entrenched is the denial of equality of women despite some progress in recent years, there is no country in the world where women have achieved full equality. They are treated as a minority group, disadvantaged and powerless. The burdens of poverty, unemployment and educational backwardness weigh more heavily on women than on men. For example, two-thirds of the illiterates in the world are women. Women need free access on equal terms to education, social participation and communities if they are to share rightly fully in solving the problems of their societies. But their access is impeded by traditions, by province based on social customs or sometimes on religions
The United Nation General Assembly adopted the declaration on the elimination of violence when it was drafted in 1979. It formed violence against women within the dialogue on human right. Government has been able to carry out some research on the fight against the discrimination of the female child and this has been able to reduce the rate at which the girl child is been discriminated against.
Education is defined conception ally as: A process through which a society develops its consciousness of the individuals who compose it. The objective is just to produce highly cultured men and women fit to discharge their duties as good human beings and as worthy citizens of the society. In the category of knowledge, women were on the same level with men. There is no sphere of life where males predominated women, but this is only possible when women are conscious of their status before even others will respect their status so to succeed to evaluate how far women and men might advance.
It was erroneously held that female children should be accorded informal education that would ensure their transformation into mothers and obedient wives. Educating a woman amounts to educating a nation. This is because of the woman’s productive capacity and the enormous influence the women have to the children they trained. If the wives are dirty, no matter how clean the husband may be, the children would be dirty likewise if the wives are ignorant no matter how educated the husband may be, children would be ignorant, simply because the children have to copy more of the mother’s behaviours than the father’s.
If really the societal problem is that the system is psychologically colonized and there is the need for liberation which starts from the self through meaningful education and transformation to the individual, then that intellectual transformation must start from the women folk as they are the architect of the societal though. They are the primal teachers of the children and teaching small children is like scribbling on stones. It will never be erased.
But today, like in the past, many intelligent girls are strategically forced to leave education for marriage. Even were they are allowed to continue with their education, they are psychologically enslaved to believe that their education will end at a marital wedlock as such has not much significance. Sometimes brilliant girls are locked up in a marital wedlock as such they could not further their education. In Africa, female illiteracy is almost twice than that of man. Available education frameworks continue to shunt women into traditionally female occupations, such as health care, domestic science and primary school teachings.
Most of the girls are not prepared for any kind of employment. They are left (large population) with highest unemployment rate in Africa. The women are constrained by their limited economic opportunities very few hold important economic positions.
Many women continue to have less access to higher education, job experience and capital accumulation than men, which limit their capacity to complete for jobs that might lead to positions of Authority and power within the state.
Obviously, female children can attain great heights depending on the training they receive right from birth. Besides this, they are better home managers, dutiful in house hold chores and more caring to aged parents. Ignorance accounts for an unwillingness to raise the status of women education and is meant to help all. So, the discrimination towards women is virtually responsible for the sustenance of ignorance, superstition. Every opportunity should be given to these ambassadors of goodwill as the touch bearers who have an antidote to stamp down illiteracy in homes, suppositions, evil spirits and diseases.
Girls’ education is the assured route to women economic empowerment; earning money elevates a woman’s self-esteem and her standing in her home and community. It can also propel a woman out of a destructive relationship or encourage her to change its terms.
Government seems to embark on women’s education mainly to ensure that they secure academic or professional advantages at the risk of our cultural and moral values. The moral level of most of the single girls on the campuses are so dismal. The institutions are like immoral training centers which is mainly caused by the socio-economic phenomenon from which the society is yet to extricate itself. Many of these factors make most of these young girls vulnerable to the advances of sugar daddies, fellow students, and immoral lecturers who black mail the girls into having illicit affairs with them so as to pass their academic and other school activities. These factors leave most of the women in high education as perpetual spinsters. None of their colleagues who had witnessed their immoral exploits on the campuses could want them as wives, which lead to frustration.
In the country today, there are women Lawyers, Engineers, Accountants, Business executives, Professors, Vice Chancellors, Doctors, Journalist etc, but those of them who are not married are in the best position to narrate the frustration involved as basic human needs are such that no amount of academic achievement can succeed in suppressing them permanently. Education is a human right and an essential tool for achieving equality, development and peace. In so many societies, girls continue to suffer from lack of qualitative education. The quest for women liberation through education is premised on the understanding of good family life not only as the foundation of a good nation but, the nucleus of our growing democracy.
Women are very much constrained by a sexual division of labour which burdens them with domestic duties whether employed in wages, labour or not. This doubles burdens sap women’s energies and limits the amount of time and effort available to them to engage in political matters. Today, women are increasingly withdrawing from political matters to economic matters.
In chapter two, the data relevant to the study have been reviewed. From the literature review, it is evident that the girl-child faces a lot of problems that hinder her from going to school. Such challenges are both internal and external. Education is the right of every girl everywhere and key to transforming her life and the life of her community. Without education, girls are denied the opportunity to develop their full potential and to play a productive and equal role in their families, societies, countries and the world at large. That schools in Africa are often substandard especially in rural and isolated areas means that even the few girls lucky enough to get access to education often receive one of poor quality and limited duration. Many schools in Africa are nearly destitute, with classes being held in crowed, poorly constructed structures in which there is very limited access to paper and pencils and even less access to text books and computers.
SUMMARY, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
The study sets out to examine the challenges of girl-child education in Jos north local government area. Such challenges include the factors that have been serving as hindrances to access to education of girls in Jos north local government area.
To enrich the study, the researcher provided a chronicle of extensive background literature that helped in positing the subject of study in a clearer perspective. Thus, the researcher reviewed education as a concept, types of education, characteristics of education, functions of education, criteria for judging what to learn and the hindrances to girl-child education. The data reviewed shows that education is important to every individual in the society because it gives knowledge which in turn gives power. It is also clear from the literature review that there are several factors that serve as hindrances to girl-child education in Jos north local government area. Moreover, by using the survey research design with its accompanying relevant research procedures, data were collected and analyzed.
The questionnaire instrument of data collection was used to obtain information from the sampled population. A total number of one hundred questionnaires were distributed to the sampled population (Jos north local government area).
The data collected and analyzed clearly showed that several factors act as hindrances to girl-child education in Jos north local government area. Such factors among others include poverty, sexual violence, sexual abuse, culture and religion.
These findings are evident in table 7. Similarly, in table 8, it is evident that girl-child education is poor in Jos north local government area and also that the attitude to the education of the girl-child in Jos north local government is poor.
Data also showed that female children do not have access to education like their male counterparts in terms of education in Jos North Local Government Area. Data in table 9 also showed that the girl child from wealthy homes have more access to education than those from poor homes.
Finally, the findings showed that there are several factors that affect girl-child education in Jos North Local Government Area.
Education is the right of every girl-child everywhere and key to transforming her life and the life of her community. Without education, girls are denied the opportunity to develop their full potentials and to play a productive and equal role in their families, their societies, their countries and their world.
More so, that schools in Africa are often substandard, especially in rural and isolated areas, means that even the few girls lucky enough to get access to an education often receive one of poor quality and limited duration. Although much has been done to improve the caliber and existence of girls’ education in African Countries, there is still much to be done. The largest hurdles that need to be overcome before all African girls can all get the education they deserve is the prevailing social thought that discourages or minimizes the importance of education of girls.
Therefore, based on the findings arrived at in this study, the researcher concludes that there are certain challenges that confront the girl-child in terms of education in Jos North local Area of Plateau State. The researcher therefore concludes that girl-child education is not given due recognition in Jos North Local Government Area. The extent to which girl-child education is embraced in Jos North Local Government Area is poor. The fact that female children do not have equal access to education like their male counterpart, the belief by some parents that education is meant for boys etc. indicate that female education is not given due recognition in Jos North Local Government Area.
Thus, based on the data available, the study concludes that the factors that affect girl-child education in Jos North are poverty, early marriage, sexual abuse, sexual violence, religion, culture, illiteracy among others.
THE CHALLENGES OF GIRL-CHILD EDUCATION: A CASE STUDY OF JOS NORTH LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA