Education is a powerful tool for national development yet over 132 million girls globally are unable to get the opportunity to access this tool. There has been a lot of debate on the reasons why girl child education is important nevertheless there are still so many girls out of school. There is a need for policy makers to prioritise the need for gender equality in education so as to achieve quality education for all which is the Sustainable Development Goal 4. The GAG dissemination project, which means Girls’ Education Advocacy Guide is sponsored by Malala Fund while Onelife Initiative for Human Development’s involvement was through YouthHub Africa.
Onelife Initiative’s belief in the broad effect of good policies was the interest in the project. With Nigeria as a member of the United Nations and signed a treaty at the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), it means all children should have the right to education. This behoves the government to fulfil this already signed agreement so that goals 4 and 5 of the Sustainable Development Goal can be achieved.
In some communities in Nigeria, it is perceived that the boy child deserves a higher level of education than the girl child. For what it is worth, girls education can transform lives, communities, and countries. Therefore girls around the world are standing up in support of their out-of-school sisters and fighting to see every girl complete 12 years of free, safe, quality education. In Nigeria, we are glad to be to join those like Malala Yousafzei who are raising their voices for girls who are out of school.
Onelife Initiative trained 58 individuals between ages 13-23 who were interested in championing girls’ education advocacy in their communities. Through the training, participants were able to come up with ideas to increase the enrolment of girls in school. Sessions were interactive such that there was discussion, role play, and other activities. Some of the ideas include punishment for parents or guardians who fail to ensure their girl child is enrolled in school and raising more awareness on girl child education. At the end of the training for younger advocates, the students were guided to form an advocacy club and chose their leaders democratically.
The older advocates ended their training with a tweet chat that reached about 17,000 persons. Also, online dissemination was done by sending softcopies of the manual used during the training to interested individuals, it reached over 100 people who are also interested in girl child education. GAG facilitators and one of the older advocates had a radio interview at IBR 92.5 FM where they were able to discuss what GAG was about, how it was going and the importance of GAG in Oyo State. See link here
To ensure lead actors in the education space also get involved, an engagement was held with the Civil Society Action Coalition on Education For all (CSACEFA) a national coalition of Civil Society Organization working on education issues in Nigeria. This meeting was interactive and recommendations like: Government should work towards providing for 12 years of free, safe and quality education instead of 9 years that currently operate in the country. One member said he was really interested in advocating for girls’ education since “if you want to educate a nation, you have to educate women”. Also, the quality of education should be a focus to the government and organizations working around education, not just free education.
Conclusively, part of the recommendation is that “measures to monitor existing and new educational policies should be put in place. There is also the need for the government to prioritise the education of girls in Nigeria. Researches should also be carried to identify what the problems really are at the state level so that proper approaches can be used to provide solutions.”