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PLIGHT OF THE GIRL-CHILD

PLIGHT OF THE GIRL-CHILD

The young girls trooped into the conference room of the Sambo Road office of Girl Child Concerns GCC with hope on their faces and a spring in their footsteps. They were accompanied by their teachers and volunteers and other supporters from the communities around Kaduna to commemorate the Second International Day of the Girl Child on October.

Among the participants at the workshop were girls from Queen Amina College, Government Girls’ Secondary School, Kawo, Kaduna Capital School, volunteers from National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) and other GCC partner organisations. The workshop was facilitated by the GCC Program Officer Mrs Umma Iliyasu Mohammed. It began with an introductory session where we introduced our organisation which is Girl Child Concerns its activities, why it organised the workshop and why female students from government secondary schools were invited to participate. We introduced the Girls Not Brides partnership, the GNB Nigerian coalition and the project it is currently implementing in the country.
GCC is a Kaduna based nongovernmental organisation dedicated to improving the lives of youth particularly girls through improved education opportunities while ensuring availability of qualitative broad based education for all young people regardless of class or gender in the country. Over the years, the organization has worked with local communities, particularly in Northern Nigeria towards providing safe spaces for girl children, scholarships to the needy and capacity building for life skills. The aim is to ensure that young people are given the opportunities they need to develop into informed adults who are able to make informed decisions about their lives. GCC also serves as the Nigeria Secretariat of Girls Not Brides, a network of NGOs working on addressing issues of child marriage.

The workshop discussed the significance of the day, which was in recognition of girls’ right, the unique challenges girls face around the world and the theme for this year’s celebration “Innovation for Girls Education”. This theme was the focus of the workshop. The event was supposed to be a celebration of the girl child and placing issues affecting them on the front burner of social and policy discourse. However the content of a special report released to coincide with the day cast a pensive air on their outing.
A special report released by the Africa Health, Human & Social Development Information Service (Afri- Dev) showed a very close linkage between poor educational attainment of girls, forced marriage of underage children and under age child bearing. It revealed that eight states in Nigeria have the worst record of highest female illiteracy, as they have the lowest number of girls in school. The report showed that most of the states are from the Northern states of Kebbi, Sokoto, Bauchi, Jigawa, Yobe, Zamfara, Katsina, and Gombe. They were also reported to currently have the highest adolescent girls’ marriage’, highest under 18 child bearing records and highest under 15 child bearing placing them in the highest risk category for maternal death and injury. All these, the scorecard noted are the direct consequences of poor educational attainment of girls in the region, which it says could jeopardize Nigeria’s future attainment unless overall human developments are urgently improved’.
The GCC as part of its contribution to improving girls’ access to education designed the workshop to get the girls perspective on reasons why young girls drop out of school, what makes girls opt for marriage and also identification of some innovative approaches to learning, teaching, schools infrastructure development what will make schools attractive for girls and thus encourage them to remain in school. The innovative approach was meant to provide an opportunity for the girls to reflect on their own issues and collate their views. The following topics were discussed: child marriage, what are the barriers to girls’ education, the challenges girls face in school, the general problem with schools in particular and the education sector in general. The girls provided their ideas and perspective on the kind of innovative solutions to social as well as physical challenges that girls face both in and outside the classroom.
The workshop had interactive sessions which provided the girls a forum to add their voices to the discussion on innovation for girls’ education, especially schools development and improvements that will make schools safe and attractive for girls. The girls made the following input:

Adequate security should be provided to all schools especially those in boarding schools.
Introduce young girls to role models and career opportunities.
Guidance and counselling units should be provided and made mandatory for all schools so that girls can freely talk and molestation will be reduced. Also strong penalty should be placed on child molestation.

Schools need qualified teachers - these teachers should go through some training and re-training
Teacher’s welfare Accommodation. Change of attitude e.g. discrimination, students are forced to leave school for this.
School authorities should ensure that the time table for teaching is well planned and teachers stick to it.

Compulsory and priority subjects such as Mathematics and English should always be taught in the mornings when the level of students’ concentration is higher.
Teaching Curriculum should be updated yearly to accommodate new methods.
The new school curricula that has trade subjects should be fully implemented by having Teachers undergo training in the new trade subjects, while workshops should be constructed and tools provided  to ease implementation process.
Government should put in place a monitoring team to ensure full implementation and sustainability of the new curriculum.
Female teachers should be trained and sent to rural areas. They should be provided with incentives such as accommodation  and scholarships
Internet facilities and on line training should be provided to teachers
Modern Teaching methods  like activities based approach to teaching should be introduced in schools.
New sitting arrangements which is more inclined towards a participatory centred method should be adopted.
More attention to practical lessons in subjects like computer, home-management and sciences should be adopted with students provided with tools like computers.
Government should support and work hand in hand with NGOs that are focused on education
.
Government should build more modern toilets and provide adequate water supply to reduce infections and pollution.
Food:  dining halls should be properly maintained and supervisors should be provided to check that the food given to students is healthy because it causes 50% of the health problems in schools.
Teacher. More light on the home management labs considering it can be turned into a source of income for some students after school.

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