ACCESS TO EDUCATION: IMPLICATIONS FOR THE GIRL-CHILD
My late mother told me that early in life she was denied education because she was a girl-child. it was her brother, the only male child that was given the privilege of education.
Mum told me the society then believed that a woman's edUcation will end in her husband's home so it was a waste of resources investing in a girl's education .
According to her she was only lucky to get education when her brother did not show enough willingness to go to school . So her father sent her to school because she was willing to get education .
And she did tell me that on her father's death bed he told hee he was glad he trained her in school . Because eventually education empowered her to cater for him in his old age .
Since my mum was educated she married a literate man who was my father . Together they trained us- four females . Our gender not withstanding .
Probably because of my pedigree it was much later in life that I realized that some girls were denied education because of their gender .
Initially I thought gender disparity only existed within the confines of our social and cultural beleifs . Oh how wrong I was !
In my community now both boys and girls have equal access to education unlike many years back when education was the exclusive preserve of the boy-child .
In primary education both sexes have 100 percent equal completion. However in secondary education the level of completion drops at least by seven percent .
Due to some factors some girls do not complete secondary education amd so more often than not they do no go beyond this level of education .
Such factors include but are not limited to the following-
1. Poverty- parents are not financially empowered to send them to school beyond the secondary because education is very expensive .
2. Teenage pregnancy - so they mothers too early and probably marry early or end up as single parents .
3. They are victims of rape, sexual abuse or harrassment .
4. Peer influence
5. Lack of respect for women generally .
6. Education is expensive
For girls who lucky to go beyond the secondary school one odd fact that I have noticed is that we have less girls going for the science oriented courses compared to the boys . E.g in an Engineering class of 25 students you can only find one or two girls . The gender gap in science education is worrisome . There is the societal belief again that the science courses are "hard" and so they are meant for boys ! Can you beat that !
This is obviously a great hindrance to girls having equal access to education .
From this point my association (women journalists) is been trying to work on some programmmes that could ginger the love if the girls for the sciences . It is our vision to close the gender gap in science education .
Though our major constraint has been sourcing funds to finance the project .
It is my hope that when boys and girls have equal access to science education women's voice will not be left out in any field of human endeavour .
Another major solution is for government at all levels to put in place free and compulsory education . Presently financing education beyond secondary level in my community is out of the reach of the common man .
When education is free the citizenry are better empowered to contribute meaningfully to the society .