Living in a very safe environment where there is no fear, our lives and properties are secured is the wish of every individual. According to late Nelson Mandela, “safety and security don’t just happen; they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear”. That should be the utmost priority of every leader and government. In Nigeria, the girl child lives in fear of the unknown as she is faced with many challenges which include: child trafficking, rape, gender discrimination, illiteracy, early marriage, prostitution, unwanted pregnancies, abduction, domestic violence and so many others.
Most countries in the world see education as a basic human need and in Nigeria also, education is a basic human right that has been recognized since the 1948 adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Education is one of the fundamental rights of individuals. Unfortunately, so many young girls in most parts of the world are deprived of this opportunity, especially in Nigeria. The rate at which young girls drop out of school is worrisome and calls for concern. According to the Director-General of the National Institute for Educational Planning and Administration, NIEPA, Prof. Lilian Salami, one third of all girls are out of school in Nigeria, amounting to over 5.5 million school age girls. The North is the worst hit as it has the highest number of female school dropouts. Regrettably, the government’s investment in education is still low despite the significant impact of both national and international intervention in the sector to forestall this menace.
To this end, I implore the government to save the Nigerian girl child by providing free education for them because education bestows on women a disposition for a lifelong acquisition of knowledge, values, standards, attitudes, competence and skills. Let’s say no to illiteracy, no to early child marriage, no to prostitution, no to poverty, no to gender inequality and no to anything that has held women down. The young girls should be made to understand that they can be whatever they want to be.
Deborah Phillips is of the Department of Mass Communication, Bayero University, Kano.