In 2013, the theme for the International Day of the Girl Child celebration was Innovating for Girls’ Education. This topic was chosen in recognition of the importance of fresh and creative perspectives to propel girls’ education forward. Going online to search for some notable work in female education, I found mostly arguments on the need for female education. In 2017! When I was in primary school, maybe those arguments were valid but today? It’s crazy! Nobody deserves to be kept from getting an education because of gender. Education should be available for everyone, right? I mean primary and secondary education to enable one read and write, understand and contribute to society and to understand one’s self. This should be a basic right, right? But these arguments exist because in many parts of Africa, Asia and South America, many girls cannot get an education.
Before we raise our shoulders to show the world how educated we are, especially in Southern Nigeria, can we take a moment to do some soul-searching? You had a baby five years ago and the ten year old girl sent to you from the village to be your child’s nanny had no education. You had promised to send her to school when your baby starts school. Your baby started school three years ago, but the nanny still has no education. And when she asks you when she’ll be starting school, you deflect or get upset. Maybe this is not you. Maybe it’s your sister, aunt, cousin, best friend, etc. But what have you done about the situation?
Innovating for girls’ education is not as simple as asking girls to go to school. It is making it possible for girls to go to school. In certain parts of the north, where girls are not allowed to relate with boys outside their families, girls-only schools are created to encourage parents to send their daughters to school. In some states in Nigeria, primary and secondary education is free. This tackles the poverty problem, so that girls in those states can go to school. Organisations like Campaign for Female Education and Plan International are doing so much work around the world to create better opportunities for girls.
What can you do to help? You can donate to this cause. If you’re waiting for youth service, you can volunteer at a school in your community which has no teachers. You can offer to tutor all the uneducated maids in your compound. You can pay fees and buy a pair of uniforms for that little girl who hawks oranges while her peers are in school. An educated girl is likely to earn 25% more income, marry after the age of 18 and have a smaller, healthier family. Today is day 98. Today you’re aware.