Over 9.5 million Nigerian girls are out of school, UNFPA Says

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and education experts have called equal opportunities for girls and women to access quality education in order to actualise their potentials in the society, stating that 9.5 million girls aged between 10 and 17 are out-of-school in the country.

Speaking at a virtual conference with the theme, ‘Girl Child Education in Nigeria,’ organised by EVA as part of the 9JAYouthTalk webinar series yesterday, they, however, urged young girls to aspire for education and remain committed in its pursuit.

The conference, which featured a panel session, was moderated by the Program Officer of Education as a Vaccine, Sarbyen Sheni.

In her keynote speech, UNFPA’s National Program Analyst (ASRH/YD), Bahijjatu Bello Garko, said: “Nigeria has a huge youth bulge, out of which about 17 million are girls between the ages of 10 and 17. But unfortunately, 56 percent (9.52 million) of these girls is not in school.

“It is basically very worrisome for us, because we know that education is the key to national development and success.

“So, girl child education should be factored in, and made a priority in every development plan and intervention in the country.”

One of the panelists, Dr. Efi Anametemfiok, the Gender Officer, Federal Ministry of Education, advised girls to see themselves as special, and strive to acquire skills that would enable them to achieve their goals in life.

Anametemfiok noted that though every woman could make a decision, not all of them knew how to make informed choices.

She, therefore, urged women and girls to be self-motivated and determined to continue their education even in the face of daunting challenges.

“Girl child education can help eradicate most of the problems we are experiencing in the society today, such as gender-based violence, HIV infection, teenage pregnancy and maternal mortality,” she added.

Also speaking, Mrs. Elizabeth David, Ex-Deputy Director, Female Education, Kaduna State Ministry of Education, said the girl child deserved to be given a chance to prove herself in society.

“Girls should take advantage of the every opportunity they have to acquire education and make optimum use of it to improve their self-esteem, problem solving skills, employment opportunities, income, social status and general contribution to national development,” David said.

Similarly, Adek Bassey (Today for Tomorrow Foundation), advised girls to learn new skills with knowledge acquisition as the motivation.

Speaking on the effects of gender discrimination on girl child education, the Co-director, Centre for Girls Education and Malala champion, Habiba Mohammed, advised the government and other stakeholders to create safe and conducive for girls to access education, while ensuring quality and value in the process.

On his part, Sani Mohammed of Bridgeconnect Africa Initiative, called on the community leaders to do more to support the rights of women and girls to equal education opportunities as boys in their domains.

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Richard S.B
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