Teenage girls reject early marriage for education - The Naija Weekly

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Thursday, October 3, 2019

Teenage girls reject early marriage for education


The issue of early marriage for the girl child has become a contentious one. In a time and age when education plays crucial role in societal development as an aftermath of the education of its citizens, it is a misnomer to urge the girl child not to be educated. FRANK IKPEFAN writes on some brave teenagers who preferred education to early marriage.
In a region where child marriage is prevalent, 12-year-old Aisha Muhammed’s quest for education draws some courage that other girls can follow. The Primary 5 pupil of Warure Special Primary School, Gwale LGEA, Kano State, has an ambition to become a doctor. That ambition cannot be thwarted even by the money of a rich politician or parental influence for early marriage.
She has a goal to help her community, particularly girls after she might have finished her education. According to her, she wants to do something about women in her community.
“I want to get married after I become a doctor. If any man comes, politician or any rich man comes, I will not agree. I will not marry him. I will not agree because I want to finish my studies. I want to become a doctor and help my community, particularly the females. I want to do something about women.
“No, I want to finish my secondary school first before I will love any man. My parents will not give me away to any man. My father is a businessman but he has some basic education. My mother is a housewife, but she went to school too,” Aisha said.
That future is being moulded at Warure Special Primary School, Gwale LGEA, Kano State. The school is one of the few selected by the state government to be part of a federal government effort of getting more children in school.
It is a government primary school established in 1959 with two classrooms, 30 pupils and five teaching staff, including the headteacher. The school currently has a population of 2,728 pupils: 1,459 males, and 1,269 females. It also has more classrooms and teachers.
Like Miss Muhammed, thirteen-year old Suraya Abdulrazak, also has an ambition to become a doctor in future. She said, “I want to be a doctor when I grow up.”
According to the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, Nigeria has 10.2 million out-of-school children, even though government had made primary education free and compulsory. Kano and eleven other states, share about eight million of this figure, according to a survey by United Nations’ Children Education Fund (UNICEF).
UNICEF said that the estimate included children attending non-formal education.
In its sectoral situation report in Nigeria, it said only 61 per cent of 6-11 years old children regularly attended primary school, while only 35.6 per cent of children aged 36-59 months received Early Childhood Education.
To close this gap and give children in the state the benefit of education, the Kano State government is partnering agencies like the UNICEF and the United Kingdom Department for International Development (UKDID) in order to increase enrollment in schools, especially girls enrollment.
In 2012, the state government established a School-Based Management Committee (SBMC) in Warure, to ensure completion of basic education for all school-age children. The school is fast becoming a choice destination for parents wishing to enrol their kids.
The UN agency said that it plans to enroll one million out-of-school girls in schools by 2020 in Zamfara, Bauchi, Katsina, Niger, Sokoto and Kano states. According to UNICEF, the enrolment goal would be done under its Girls Education Project 3 (GEP3) in these six northern states using the SBMC.
The project, funded by the DFID and being implemented by UNICEF, is an eight year project (2012 to 2020) aimed at contributing to improving the social and economic opportunity for girls in northern Nigeria.
At a recent two-day media dialogue on the project in Kano state, UNICEF GEP 3 Kano state Coordinator, Richard Akanet, said that 42,000 primary and Islamic school teachers had so far been trained and mentored in child-friendly pedagogy under the programme.
He noted that 1,900,000 boys had also benefitted from the programme through investments in “improvements to teacher quality and school governance”.
Akanet said: “Socio-economic status has been the main reason behind not being enrolled in school. Since May 2012, UNICEF has been implementing the eight year GEP3 (2012-2020) funded by the United Kingdom Department for International Development, which aims at contributing to improved social and economic opportunity for girls in northern Nigeria.
“The major focus is to get school-age girls to school, without neglecting boys’ enrollment. The main reasons given for girls dropout from school are; direct cost which represents 29 per cent, those who are with no interest in education represent 25 per cent, while opportunity cost stands at 23 per cent.
“Our target is one million additional girls in school and our outputs are; increased enrolment and retention for girls in basic education, improved capacity for teachers to deliver effective learning for girls and improved governance to strengthen girls’ education.
“The expected results by 2020 are; approximately one million girls in school, primary and integrated Qur’anic schools; 1.6million girls reached by improved teaching and learning environments.
“Also, 15,300 head teachers have been trained in school effectiveness and curriculum management, and approximately 1.9million boys have benefited from GEP 3 interventions”.
He said the goal of the SBMC is to improve in school enrolment, especially for girls, as well as a remarkable reduction in schoolgirls’ dropout.
Director of Social Mobilisation, Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), Bello Kagara, said that the SBMC was the closest structure to engage in addressing the problem of out-of-school children and that the community, and if properly supported, will deliver.
He said the commission would spend N2.7 billion on the rehabilitation of 2,505 selected primary schools across the country.
He added that each of the benefiting schools would receive a first disbursement of 75 per cent payment of the total amount allocated to it, while the remaining 25 per cent would be paid after the commission confirms its satisfaction with the utilisation of monies released earlier.
“Already, the Federal Government has said it will inject the sum of N2.7billion in the SBMC Intervention scheme in 2,505 basic schools across the country.
“For the pilot phase, under the macro project, we are supporting 15 schools per state, including the FCT. For the micro project, we are supporting 50 schools per state. In special projects, we are supporting 120 of such,” he said.
Kagara said each of the benefiting schools would receive the first disbursement of 75 per cent payment of the total amount allocated to it, while the remaining 25 per cent would be after the commission confirms its satisfaction with the utilisation of monies released earlier.
The Director however said the SBMC committee must pay 10 per cent of the total amount for project execution before they can access the 75 per cent.
He identified poor funding and non-participation of key actors as some of the major challenges bedeviling the quality and increased access to education in the country.
Also, the Kano State SBMC Chairman, Tijjani Baraya, explained that before, nobody cared about public schools within their communities, adding that: “those days people felt any school within their area, they simply say they were government property but today, our people now realise the schools located in their communities belong to them and not the government”.
He said the concept of SBMC is to give communities the chance to support school programmes within their community.
Baraya added: “The SBMC committee for instance, in Kano State, comprises 17 members drawn from traditional, religious institutions, artisans, school pupils, teachers, community-based organisations, and women organisations.
”The role of SBMC and that of the Parent Teachers Association (PTA) are different. The PTA charges levies while the SBMC is an intervention. SBMC does not charge any member of the community or requests money from the pupils. This plan is what the school uses within a period, it consists of the school needs and costs”.

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