BY JENNIFER TANKO
One great challenge of the girl child not getting educated is poverty. Poverty is a deadly disease that inflicts a lot of pain and keeps dwelling among those it inflicts anguish. It has been so from generation to generation and until a decisive action is taken against it, it won’t go. One of its cure is education and that is why we must stop laying emphasis on the need for education, especially for the girl child. She is the most neglected concerning education in Africa.
Poverty is a tree with so many branches which has been fighting girl child education, leading her helplessly to early marriage. In a chat with one of the victims of early marriage, she revealed how she got married due to lack of funds to aid her go to school with the hope that her husband would put her in school and pay the bills. She said she ended up not being able to go to school because going into marriage only added to her responsibilities such as child rearing and taking care of her family which are time consuming and require energy that could otherwise be spent on schooling.
Worst of it is the sad reality that the condition of the mother subjects the children to bad health conditions such as malnutrition, low weight and various illnesses because the young mothers are still at the stage of growth and their bodies are not fully ready to be sexually active for child bearing.
Poverty also contributes to making these girls financial providers to their families. They go into hawking on the streets, which exposes them to the risk of road accidents. They engage in menial jobs like house maid and lots more. All these expose them to sexual abuse. Another challenge of girl child education is cultural misconceptions. So many ill traditional believes make the male child assume superiority to the female child and therefore, she is not treated with equality as the male child.
In many African traditions, the birth of a male child is more celebrated than that of a female child because it is said that the male child would keep the family name so that the lineage won’t be cut off but I keep wondering if one would live for a thousand years. That is food for thought. With all these believes a female child is not regarded, thereby making her education carelessly handled. After all she is considered to be less superior.
Female children are confined to domestic chores; she is considered to only fit in at the kitchen and the house and she is not schooled because that is her role- a house keeper. This orientation makes her not to realize her full potential.
Research suggests that there is an ill traditional practice in some parts of Sub-saharan Africa called Trokosi whereby young girls under the ages of 8 to 15 years old are given to fetish shrines to serve under threat, domestic and sexual slaves.
Their crimes are simply being related to a family member who committed an offense often before the girls are even born and when any of the girl dies in the process and she has not stayed for the number of years, she is replaced by another girl in the family or the family pays a huge sum of money.
Cultural misconception is a tool that has been a hindrance to a lot of girls getting education. Illiteracy is another major challenge of girl child education. There is poor enlightenment about the benefits of educating the girl child and so a lot of these illiterate parents see no reason why a girl child has to go to school. Some of their reasons are if they educate her she would get married and the benefits of her being educated doesn’t help them but the family which she gets married to and, therefore, won’t want to spend their money on their girl child.
Some don’t lack funds; they see no need for education. Political leaders, women groups, individuals, traditional heads and non government organizations should play critical roles in making sure these issues are addressed.
Tanko wrote in from Abuja
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