Education is a process of facilitating, learning or acquiring knowledge, skills, values, beliefs and habits. It involves receiving systematic instruction; is a deliberate and conscious effort to acquire a wealth of knowledge in particular subject matters, improve the abilities of the mind and arm individuals to develop potentials that are of positive value to the society.
Girl child education in simple terms refers to the education of a girl.
Whether boy or girl, education is essential to every human since it bestows a disposition for an acquisition of knowledge, values, attitudes, competence and skills.
In earlier times, women encountered challenges in obtaining basic formal education; however the recognition of education as a basic human right since the adoption of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights in 1948 has granted all Nigerian children access to education regardless of gender, religion and disability. This has allowed more young girls go to school and this transition over the years is certainly noteworthy. The society has evolved from beliefs and practices that render women subservient to their male counterparts and even though there are still grey areas and grounds to be covered, it is most beneficial for us to acknowledge the fact that men and women, boys and girls now enjoy equal facilities to excel, live happy and learn. It is even more important for us to draw strength from the many opportunities that now exist for us as young girls.
Girl child education plays an important role in women empowerment, has clear impacts on the skills, health and economic future of young women; grants women access to professional careers, advanced training and improved awareness. There are women not only actively participating in politics, business, science, technology, the academia and economic activities but are leading in these and other areas of their endeavors simply because of their productivity. An educated woman is of enormous benefit to a nation because she is equipped with skills, information and self-confidence to be a better parent, worker and citizen. When you build a woman, you build a nation; therefore education is not only a valuable tool to the girl child but is also an instrument we can use to tackle many societal issues.
Although there are still issues that are anti-woman and may pose as limitations to the heights we can attain but we can embrace one truth -success is not difficult or impossible because we are women. Constraints generally exist on the path to greatness for all and sundry but their existence should serve not as barricades but as reminders that open up channels for possibilities.
Motivation and reinforcement from the society may be lacking but we must not depend on it. The universe is only designed to respond and reward us according to the efforts that we make so you must resist the temptation of entitlement because it cripples. Again the world owes you nothing but on the contrary, you owe the world everything and that is the light dwelling in you.
The world is advancing hence, it is very important to get a good education; education makes you knowledgeable; knowledge empowers you to put yourself in better positions and make enlightened decisions; knowledge empowers you to influence lives, set priorities right, design and develop strategies. Opportunities are everywhere but can be created where they do not exist. It is education that gives us the power to create. Our lives are shaped by the choices we make; either good or bad and the choices we make can only be influenced by the information we have, our goals and visions.
According to Manly Hall, author, Philosopher and Mystic, ’words are potent weapons for all causes, good or bad.’ This explains that the words we use to describe problems and situations relating to gender either unite or enlarge our differences. Stereotyping is a dangerous tool that sends across a message of generality which enhances preconceived misconceptions and notions that girls are not made to be exceptional in areas that do not involve domestic activities. Therefore, there is dire need for us to consistently raise fences, turn blind eyes and deafening ears to statements that suggest that people are only able to do things that are great, exceptional or commendable only because they are a certain gender or belong to a certain group; especially things that are ordinarily learned through training or repeated learning. We must focus on the importance of our individuality and make ourselves more accessible in the bigger picture on the basis of value without awaiting any form of special categorization or alienation that sends a message of gender.
As young girls, we must sustain positive social orientation and increasingly propagate positive narratives about women by demonstrating self-belief, strength and courage not in a way that is confrontational, condescending or dehumanizing but in a way that is subtle, respectful and empowering to the human race. Girl power is essential but human power is more beneficial to our society and as such, the education we acquire must be geared towards societal growth, development and impact.
Choose to be strengthened by the positive things that are happening and causing a paradigm shift from where we used to be to where we now are; choose what is relevant and not popular, refuse to be mentally impoverished and imprisoned by societal opinion and earlier preconceived ideas.
The future only belongs to those who put in the work today and every other day, if you do not take the chances, the world will leave you behind. Some women do not like failing but it is even worse that they do not even try at all. Excuses of cultural/religious beliefs are not going to stop others from doing things to succeed; it wouldn’t stop other women so you must build resilience, adaptation skills and techniques, go beyond your limitation and do those great things that you bear in mind.
Great things can be learnt by anybody who learns them, done by anybody who learns to do them. Stretch your mind, open it to every possibility, be versatile, leave your comfort zone, find new interests and try new things because we learn more about ourselves not in theory but in practical. Feed your mind, do not be afraid to have an opinion but also respect the opinion others may have even though it does not align with yours, speak out but politely and respectfully, do not shrink yourself to be likeable, do not compromise standards to obtain favours but you must be ready to work hard to excel. The price to pay is hardwork!
The world is full of so many things to be seen but while we try to see the world, we must focus on our primary goal, vision, purpose and responsibility in life. We must not be afraid to ask questions or ask for help; ignorance is dangerous and we must consciously avoid it like we would a plague.
Furthermore, do not be complacent; in other words, continue to strive for excellence in your classrooms, work place and amongst your peers. There is room to do and be more! Obtain the highest qualification in your field and as you climb up the ladder, remember the need to raise others. People spoke and that is why discriminatory practices like female genital mutilation, male preferences, early marriage, wife inheritance etc. have greatly reduced. People spoke and that is why you and I can go to school today, therefore we must raise our voices, stand up for other young girls and protect them from such discrimination. As we obtain education, we ought to advocate for other young girls to be given the same opportunities to receive good education and enjoy better privileges not merely by the things we say or the messages we promote but by the actions we take. We ought not only to inspire other young girls to be great but we must expand opportunities for them to thrive.
I see great women, wives, leaders and citizens seated here. If you are excited about a goal, dream, ambition or skill, I dare you to go out there and take it. It is time to change our thought patterns and make ourselves accountable so today; I indulge you to ask yourself what you want out of life, what to do with this education and begin to work towards it now. You can achieve anything that you want; if you believe it then it is doable and achievable!
Think different like Apple and if you are interested in doing or starting something no matter how ordinary or big it may seem, just do it like Nike. It is always worth it to try.
Above all, be the heroine of your life not the victim. Nora Ephron
This article was written for an event I was invited to by Good6 Empire Events to speak on any topic relating to Girl Child Education. Following the short notice I received, I came up with this within three hours.
What I wasn’t aware of until forty-five minutes to the time of the event was that my audience comprised of a group of young girls between the ages of 9 and 11. So in reality, this paper was not only full of grammar but also unsuitable for the young girls. I knew my intention to present the paper and talk for a very short while would not see the light of day since it efoso I needed to device a new plan that involved talking more and making illustrations.
I must confess how intrigued I was by the intelligent questions and contributions these young girls made. Amongst these ambitious girls were Lawyers, Bankers, Accountants, Engineers, Actresses and Dancers. For the first time in such gathering, I didn’t meet a Medical Doctor and I was really fascinated.
I thank my friends Samson, Isaac and their partners for inviting me to not only teach and but also be a part of something as significant as reshaping the minds of young girls towards a promising future. Indeed this is a wonderful opportunity and I do not take it for granted.
Thank you for reading. I’d like to know your thoughts on Girl Child Education, kindly leave a comment to continue this conversation.