By Charly Agwam – Bauchi
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has decried the number of out-of-school girls in the country, saying that 60 percent of 10 million out-of-school children are girls.
The UNICEF Chief of Field Office, Dr. Tushar Rane, said this at a media dialogue on girls’ education, under the ‘Girls’ Education Project 3 (GEP 3) funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) of the UK yesterday.
He said that the education of the girl child is critical to transforming communities, reducing inequalities, and strengthening economies, while also noting that when the girl child is educated, child marriage and child mortality rates reduce.
His words: “As the UN agency for children, UNICEF collaborates with the government, partners and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to help children survive, thrive and attain their full potentials, and the media plays a very important role as a critical ally in helping UNICEF fulfil this mandate.
“Despite the benefits of educating the girl child, over 10 million children in Nigeria — 60 percent of whom are girls — are out of school.
“The situation with girls’ education has been worsened by attacks on schools which have made learning environment insecure and discouraged parents and caregivers from sending their wards, particularly girls, to schools.
“The GEP3 initiative was designed to enhance the enrollment drive for girls, improve learning outcomes for girls and strengthen government’s policy making for continued support to girl child education. The project was implemented in 6 states in northern Nigeria — Bauchi, Kano, Katsina, Niger, Sokoto and Zamfara.”
He, however, noted that the GEP3 project has effectively increased the enrollment of girls, saying that a total of 650,265 girls enrolled into preprimary and Integrated Qur’anic Education.
“The Girl4Girl and HeForShe activities of the project empowered about 9,000 girls and boys in Bauchi state to use peer support mechanism to create demand for girl child enrollment in their communities.
“Strengthening the capacity of teachers is crucial for the retention of girl children who enroll in schools. The GEP3 project implemented various capacity building initiatives for teachers.
“About 11,000 teachers received training on topics such as leadership skills to enable effective running of schools, Early Grade Reading pedagogies to enable early grasp of literacy skills and other key topics essential for effective service delivery.
“The project successfully strengthened school governance systems through the facilitation of eight annual school census, strengthening school record keeping, developing Local Education Sector Operational Plan to align with the state Education Sector Plan, and improving the functionality of SBMCs and CBMCs.
“UNICEF is grateful for the support from the government, and local partners, who made these successes possible, therefore getting more girls to school. We believe that the partnership will enhance the sustainability of the project’s successes beyond the implementation timeframe,” he added.