Issues in Girl-Child Education in Nigeria: Implications for Library and Information Support

Article excerpt

Abstract

Girl-child education has become a matter of concern to stakeholders in Nigeria. This study examines the concept of and crucial issues in girl-child education. It identifies socio-cultural patterns, religious misconceptions, poverty, teenage pregnancy and early marriage amongst others as factors militating against the girl-child education. The paper advocates that public and school libraries must begin to play relevant roles and contribute to the eradication of discriminations against women. It outlines the roles public and school libraries must play in order to improve girl-child enrollment in school as well as reduce school drop-out. In order to effectively play their roles, the study suggests that libraries should source for funds from external agencies rather than depend only on their parent institutions/organizations.

Key words: Girl-child; Education; School libraries; Public libraries; Nigeria

Introduction

In the traditional Nigerian society, there exists the degenerate believe that women are second class citizens (Enejere, 1991). A woman is considered as a man's property or pleasure object. She is also considered as a 'machine' meant for producing children. This situation has resulted in unfair treatment of women especially with regards to education. The average rural Nigerian parent would rather invest in the education of the son rather than the daughter (Ada, 1992). Enejere (1991) further avers that gender inequality in Nigeria is promoted by religious and communal customs. Young girls particularly in Northern Nigeria are denied the benefit of education. This has grave consequences for both the individual and the society at large.

Education is the process through which individuals are made functional members of the society (Ocho, 2005) .It is a process through which the young acquires knowledge and realizes her potentialities and uses them for self-actualization (Offorma, 2009). Education has been described as the most important aspect of human development, a key to a successful living, especially girl-child education (Michael,2011). Denying the girl-child access to education implies making her a dysfunctional member of the society. Statistics show that many girls are not enrolled in school. The global figure for out of school children is estimated at 121 million, 65 million are girls, with over 80 percent of these girls living in sub-Saharan Africa including Nigeria (UNICEF, 2007). ActionAid International (AAIN) cited by KIKI (2010) reported that, not until recently, in a school of 150 students in Northern Nigeria, only 2-3 students are girls. This trend has minimally improved with the introduction of Sharia judicial law system (Islamic Law) in most states in northern Nigeria. The advent of the law necessitated the creation of separate schools for girls. Even at that, girls in this region do not have the right to choose education. OKIKI (2010) cited an example in Jega Local Government Area of Kebbi State in the northern part of Nigeria where females were not allowed to go to school until recently when the Local Government Council chairman enacted a bye law, making female education compulsory.

In order to improve girls' enrolment in schools, government and non government agencies have initiated various programmes. The federal Ministry of Education and United Nations Children Education Fund (UNICEF) have been leading the campaign for girl-child education in Nigeria with some measure of success. However, it is high time Libraries and Information Centres got involved in the campaign for the girl-child education. This paper examines the various roles public and school libraries could play in eradicating or reducing discriminations against the girl-child and ultimately improve girlchild education in Nigeria.

Concept of the Girl-child Education

Within the context of the Nigerian environment, several definitions of the child exist. The national Child Welfare Policy (1989) as cited by Ada(2007) defines the girl child as person below 14 years of age. …

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