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The need for girl-child education in Africa

27.11.2018
There is a common phrase which holds that ‘’when you educate a woman, you educate a nation’’. This assertion or phrase is yet to be fully implemented in the African context as gild-Child education has not yet been given its place. Notwithstanding, knowing the place or the role of an African woman in nation building, has pushed African governments into advocating for girl-child education.

Since the dawn of time till when Africa embraced civilization that brought education, African women have been given fewer regards. Many African ideologies back then undermined the place of an educated African Woman, according to them; the place of the woman was in the kitchen and taking care of domestic chores. But as time evolved, and Africa evolved too, many now saw the need to campaign for girls’ education and the phenomenon became unavoidable.

Rwanda’s president Paul Kagame once described a woman as a driving force to sustainable economic development. Kagame’s remark came at a time the continent through the continental bloc African Union is seeking to ensure quality education for young women as they strive to meet the education demand agenda 2063 on Education. It is therefore essential to promote quality education for girls especially the less privileged.

In a November 2018 address to the African Parliamentary Union APU, incumbent president Muhammadu Buhari challenged the parliament to uphold girl child education noting that girls and women have the full potentiality of becoming powerful investors in Africa. It should be noted that in Africa’s Muslim nations like Nigeria, Niger, and Northern Cameroon, Mali etc sending a girl child to school especially beyond the primary level was problematic. This was partly due to their religious beliefs.

Most of these girls after attending puberty were sent for marriages, thus child marriage remained very common in the Muslim dominated areas.

WHY A GIRL CHILD SHOULD BE EDUCATED

In Africa, women constitute the highest percentage of the informal sector, which represents about 70% of markets in the developing world. Proponents of female education have argued that with better education of the girl child or women, this class of people will have more knowledge on how to expand their businesses, thus boosting the economy and promote the economic advancement of the continent as well as add to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country. In another development, educating a girl child will be a remedy or solution to some social vices among girls and young women in the contemporary world.

  • Education creates awareness of the dangers of venereal diseases which are prevalent among young girls and women. Some of these diseases include Chlamydia, HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis (A B C).
  • Educated girls and women seek to embrace leadership and to be at the forefront of decision making in their various states. Women leadership in Africa has always been hailed. Some vibrant women that have served as leaders on the continent are; Ellen John Sirleaf (Former Liberian president and a strong proponent of female /girl child education), Joyce Banda of Malawi, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma-former head of the AU Commission and the present leader of Ethiopia Sahle-Work Zwede etc.
  • On the aspect of entrepreneurship, more equal rights to education for both men and women have exposed women to the giant business world. An example of such is a Cameroonian lady by name Kate Kanyi-Tomedi Fotso, founder and C.E.O of Telcar Cocoa Company in Cameroon. (Telcar Cocoa Company represents 30% of the country’s cocoa exports)
  • Educating girls widens their understanding about the values and importance of Education, as such sending their children to school to meet up with the changing society would not an issue of much debate. We need educated girls that can better fit the society and contribute their own quota to nation building.
  • Every since Africa started advocating for girl child education, there has been a drop in child marriages, gender-based violence The Pan African Parliamentary Union perceive Education as the only way to tackle child marriages.
  • The higher the percentage of educated girls and women, the more Africa tackles the issue of gender imbalance either in the political sphere, legal domain, the media etc. However, much has been done lately to fill this gap. A clear example is the recent cabinet reshuffle by the leadership of Rwanda and Ethiopia, given woman better representation in their respective governments.

In all, NGOs like CAMFED i.e., the ‘’Campaign for female education’’ a nonprofit international body, Malala Yousafzai others are working diligently to put an end to the marginalization of the gild child and women in Africa and the world at large.

AFRIC Editorial Article.

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