2013 VOF Week 3 A Un - Informed Person Is a Deformed Destiny
There is a saying that says that a un - informed person is a deformed destiny. Hence that is what lack of education is. I come from a community with a very poor background and limited education generally. Amongst my age mate I cannot count five who completed secondary school as at when I finished my BSC. My parents value education because my mother was a standard three drop out but was very intelligent and understood the benefits of education while my father was a business man. In my community generally, girl education was not something looked up to because they believe it is a waste of resources since the girl will be married out into another family. The girl is not supposed to talk where men are, so how can she be educated to come back to challenge men who are the bosses
Girls are meant for marriage and to produce babies, go to the farm to work and hawk on the streets to put food on the table for the rest of the family.
Poverty and economic issues, early marriage, teenage pregnancy, inadequate school infrastructure, cultural and religious misinterpretation are the several barriers to education in my community.
Nigeria has a population of about 160 million and 65 percent of the population lives below the international poverty line of $1.25 U. S per day, it is not hard to understand that sex work is the sole source of support for some families. . Early marriage and teenage pregnancy also prevent girls from going to school. A lot of girls drop out of school before reaching primary class six. Teenage pregnancy is very high, it is heart breaking how a mother would push and educate her daughter to go and have sex with an older man to bring money home and in the process she becomes pregnant and cannot go to school.
Harmful traditional practices as early marriage and Female Genital Mutilation/Circumcision are also major barriers, when a girl is circumcised, it then means she is ripe for marriage and young men also watch out for the concussion period to pick wives. Once a girl is married, she cannot go to school again.
Most schools lack adequate classroom space, furniture and equipment and are often too remotely located. Water and sanitation facilities are usually inadequate; most times they drink and defecate inside and from the same river source while teacher – pupil ratio, is so high. One teacher can take seventy to one hundred pupils. . Only 29 percent of all primary school teachers held the minimum certificate of education mandated by the government. Thus quality of teaching remains low
Most parents with large families and limited resources would rather send the boys to school than the girls. In the community where I have the campaign against FGM, there is a community secondary school of 385 pupils, six classrooms located 10 KM apart from two communities which they have not been able to put tables/chairs, floored, plaster, no toilet or drinking water. The children sit on the bare ground while a few whose parents could afford tables/chairs.
The government is not helping out, and I have tried to get funds to do part of the classrooms but it is still uncompleted. How can children learn anything well in such an environment?
Polygamy is high, and this makes fathers not to bother about daughters from a wife that is not loved. Mothers have no say in their daughters education, the final decision is from the father. There is the extended family linkage whereby a girl child is most times taken to stay with an uncle or aunty as a house made, which automatically prevents her from going to school.
When one person is rich in a community, all others will depend on him for survival, which implies that the rich man is as well poor as his entire community. Lack of education puts a whole community in darkness – education is the light that empowers a society.
The greatest challenge to girls accessing education in my community is poverty, where will their poor parents get money to pay school fees, buy uniforms even when the government says education is free, is it really free? There are so many levies placed on these kids that amount to more than the fees they are made to pay, hence it becomes a barrier and in the process of searching for money to pay, a lot of them go to meet with men or sugar daddies to sell sex and get money to attend school. How long can a girl of twelve or thirteen do this to stay in school? Some will become pregnant because they lack sexual and reproductive health education, some could contract HIV and other Sexually Transmitted Infections.
My vision for improving girl’s education is tired to the Millennium Development Goals 3. I am an advocate of the MDGs, this is the strongest global agreement which if properly explained to communities can be achieved. The MDGs has a woman face.
I got involved with the MDGs advocacy through the British Council/World Bank Institute collaboration and National Youth Service Corps. Since 2006, I have been previlage to train Nigeria graduates on issues of global development and women and girls at the community levels on their human and health rights focusing on the MDGs through participatory approaches for sustainable development.
With an awareness of their rights, women then go to become leaders in their communities inspiring other women to follow in their steps.