Dr Osita Excellence O. Oleribe.
President, Anti-Child Abuse Society of Africa (ACASA), Abuja, Nigeria; being a paper presented at NYSC/ACASA organized community awareness campaign on Girl Child Education in Katcha, Katcha LGA, Niger state, Nigeria.
Extreme poverty, mass illiteracy, large scale ignorance, high maternal mortality and fertility rates, child wastages and lack of access to health, education and social services may sound far and fictional, but to many indigenes and visitors to Katcha, they are part and parcel of everyday life. This statement may sound exaggerated, but on closer observation, it is the truth and very real to many listening to me right now. The world, realizing that these problems are not unique to Katcha, met in September 2000, in a United Nations organized assembly and came up with Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which had an eight point agenda including eradication of worse kinds of poverty, universal mass education and gender equality. The realization of the objectives of these MDGs is hinged just on one thing – Girl Child Education. Over the years, the girl-child has been grossly neglected. She is left out in decision making, utilized at homes without due remunerations, kept as home keeper and never allowed to earn a living for herself, used by men as wife, by children as mother, by other women as house girl and by men as bed mate. She has never ever being given a chance to make her own choices. In our good land of Katcha, majority are given out in marriages long before they become women, forced to marry men they love not who sometimes are old enough to be their fathers, denied education in favour of their brothers, given out to foster parents in Egikpa, denied a chance to maximize their potentials and lately, made to enter into an unholy competition of childbirth with their husband’s other wives. Girl child education is a sine qua none to the realization of total women empowerment and emancipation across the globe.
Girl child education explained:
Several times we have seen the acronym GCE. People have told us it meant General Certificate of Education. That, as true as it maybe, is not the whole truth. GCE actually stands for Girl Child Education. God allowed the acronym to be used for the most important examination in O’level to make sure that every where we go with the certificate, our minds and conscience will be pricking us – asking us a very simple but fundamental question ‘are we truly educating the girl child?’ Girl child education involves the formal (and sometimes informal) training of a girl child in knowledge and skills of daily living. Denial of GCE is the commonest manifestation of neglect of child education – the most retrogressive of all forms of child neglect. It refers to the inability or refusal of a system to provide the girl child opportunity for a qualitative and timely education, and is perpetrated by government, parents/guardians, teachers and the society.
In a recent study carried out here in Katcha, of 608 adults selected and included in the study, 306 (50.32%) were males, with a Male:Female ratio of approximately 1:1. Age was not computed as more than 98% did not sure of their age. A total of 365 (60.03%) had no formal education, of which 237 (64.93%) were females. Similarly, only 44 (7.24%) had any form of tertiary education of which only 6 (13.64%) were females. Furthermore, 483 (79.44%) were either jobless, subsistent farmers or petty traders, with females making up 100% of the jobless group. Furthermore, the study revealed that ignorant women had more children (5.05 vs 4.40), more infant and childhood deaths (1.07 vs 0.52), more pregnancy wastages or miscarriages (0.44 vs 0.43), more sick children, less contraceptive use (0.03 vs 0.17) and were less likely to immunize their children. The survey of seven (7) primary and nursery schools in Katcha town revealed that of the...