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  • Mohammed Fatima, Mentor

Girl-Child Education in Northern Nigeria

Education is the bedrock to any development in any society. But in Northern Nigeria, little emphasis is given to the education of a girl-child as she seen as meant for domestic work or hawking to provide an additional source of income for the family. This discussion would also not be complete without mentioning the Chibok girls, who were abducted by Boko Haram on 14th April, 2014.

As Nigeria kicks off a global week of action marking 3 years since the abduction of school girls from Government Secondary School in Chibok, Borno State, the question remains "Where goes our Chibok girls? Where goes our nation?" Two hundred and seventy-six were abducted that fateful day in 2014 and while 86 have returned back, the remaining 195 are still missing. The abducted girls were in school to create a better future for themselves, their family, and the nation at large. These were girls with the potential to be good citizens and great ambassadors of our country, before the envisaged bright future of the girls was snatched aways. One of the girls that escaped the abduction told BBC Hausa that one of the militant said that boko (western education) is haram (forbidden), and all it does is to instill corrupt practices and prostitution to those that are opportune to have access to it.

It has been said, if you educate a girl you educate a nation. Education allows her to be better prepared and equipped to handle the challenges life will throw at her. She will be able to make more informed choices in both her chosen career and personal lives, and she can participate actively in social and political decision making.

As an organization established to promote girl-child education, GGAC joins the ranks of various NGOs with similar goals. While some are advocating for the education and training of a girls, others are supporting organisations that are involved in the betterment of girl-child education.

UNICEF is an example of NGO which aims to get more girls into school, ensure they stay in school, and equip them with basic tools to ensure they succeed later in life. UNESCO is trying to see that there is increased focus on girls' education. It says that education and poverty eradication are inextricably bound so when a girl child is educated and later gainfully employed, it will help to reduce poverty. Sustainable development goals (SDGs) 2030 is a 15-year development plan with the theme of transforming our world, and includes some goals set on quality education (particularly for girls) and gender equality. It further stated that "the future we want" cannot be achieved unless women are integrated into each and every goal. How will that be achieved? By giving girls access to education so that they will be trained with the necessary skills to practice the various professions of their choice.

There is also a good number of women who have set the pace by succeeding in their own fields, such as prof. Hadiza Galadanci (gynecologist), Prof. Rukayat Rufai Alkali (former Minister of Education), Hadiza Bala Usman (MD NPA and founder BBOG), Amina J. Mohammed (UN Deputy Secretary General), Salamatu Hussain (former Minister of Foreign Affairs), Mairo Mandara representing the country at Gates Africa, Amina Sambo (peace ambassador), Fatima Hassan Abbass (Newscaster), Aisha Augie Kuta (award- winning photographer and journalist), Farida Yahya (Arewa blogger), Maryam UWais (lawyer, human right activists, and founder of Isa Wali Empowerment Initiative targeting condition of women and children in education, health care, and empowerment), Samira Sanusi (founder SSSCF), Aisha Babandgida (chairperson, Better Life for Rural Women), and many more who are listed among the 50 most influential women celebrated on International Women's Day by Women Founders Group.

There are still other other organisations serving as a platform to reach out to average Northern girl and women who are not privileged. The likes of them are Jaruma magazine (voice of modern Arewa woman), Women Founders Group, Vowan, Mai Tulla Foundation, Sure Start Initiative, and many others.

The question now is why bother educating a girl child? Because she will turn out to be an emancipated woman when given the opportunity to be educated, and she will develop into a useful citizen who is gainfully employed and self sufficient.

Trees are being planted to serve as a reminder of the missing Chibok girls, and I am hoping that our girls will return back to their loved ones, livelihoods, and respective homes. The northern perspective to education should be changed as North is most affected by this myth. The North has worth too.

Where goes our girls, our nation goes

No more excuses

No more silence

3 years is too long

Bring back our girls

Give voice to Nigerian woman

We want our girls back

March for Chibok girls

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