Noah Ebije, Kaduna
Emir of Argungu Samaila Muhammad Mera has called on relevant authorities to continue to step up efforts in campaigning for girl-child education in the North.
However, the Royal father who is also the Coordinator, Sultan Foundation for Peace and Development, identified insecurity, poverty, illiteracy, among other challenges bedevilling girl-child educational development in the region.
Fielding questions from Journalists in Kaduna shortly after the 3-day programme, “Keeping Girls In School” (KGIS), said the aim of the programme was to discuss ‘why our girls are not in school what stopped them from not completing their education, to resolve the issue keeping our girls out of school, how to keep girls educated for the benefit of the community.’
He disclosed that the national network of the programme was launched at the event.
Emir Mera said: ‘We have many challenges why our girls drop out of school. This include illiteracy, economy, insecurity. We are here to know what we can do as individual and also what government can do to address the issues, how do we keep our girls in school, for the better of our society, at the end of the day each state will come up with word plan
‘We have been grouped into States, at the end we will come up with solution.
Borno is the most affected state because of insecurity but here we have Zamfara, Gombe, Sokoto and Kebbi which, according to statistics are the worst when it comes to girl child education. Our next tour will be in Ethiopia where girl-child school enrollment is also very low.’
Also, answering questions from Journalists, the Lead Advocate for keeping girls in school in Africa, Dr Mairo Mandara, said the campaign is to ensure that every girl complete at secondary school education.
‘Our objective is to ensure how to raise awareness to ensure that every girl in Africa complete at least secondary education and, in the process, she learns skills.
‘In this unique campaign we do something that is different, we all know for years, a lot of money has been spent by government, international partners, civil society in trying to ensure girls complete secondary school but we realised that the missing links have not been put in the forefront.
‘So, therefore, we are getting the traditional leaders and religious leaders to be at the (Lead) forefront we will only be their followers, so government will support the initiative of traditional and religious leaders, young people, women group will also support them.
‘The ultimate thing is to ensure that every girl finishes secondary school in the process she also learns market-relevant skills, which means learning important skills like repairing of telephone, repairing computers, how to do programming, so as she goes before finishing school she is a professional she will be able to get money to help her self and her family.
‘The major challenge for keeping girls out of school is poverty, culture, not religion, no religion condone lack of education, in this meeting it is a consensus between Moslems and Christians neither Christianity nor Islam condone education, education is for both male and female there is no distinction according to the two religions, early marriage was discussed and we know it happened between Christian and Moslem, we must just all agree to keep our girls in school.
‘Research has shown that it is only by completion of secondary school that you get girls to have a significant impact in the lives of females, when girls finish their secondary before marriage that is when they themselves attend an antenatal clinic, immunise their children, she delivers in a heath facility, she does not have IVF, maternal mortality reduces, infant mortality reduces and the health and survival of children under 5 increases,
‘So the real bullet is to ensure girls remain in school until they finish secondary school and that time they are about 18, 19 years, that time their pelvic [areas] are big enough to carry pregnancy and be able to deliver, they don’t have Virginia fistula.
‘We did research and found out the places where it is difficult to enrol girls to the completion of secondary school, we are specifically targeting to start with those areas in Nigeria and Ethiopia in the next 18 months.
‘Specifically, the Emirs and religious leaders that came here are those that came from communities that are backward, there is a place where you don’t have a single girl in secondary school, we saw similar things all over, so these things are our target, the beautiful thing about this campaign is that no body is giving them a kobo it is their children, it is their community, it is their problem, they will solve their problems themselves, then once they start doing it they will then look for help , so is not like NGO where somebody will come and tell them to do it,’ she stated.
Chief Imam of Waff Road Mosque, Kaduna, Mohammed Sani Isah added his voice to keeping girls in school campaign, saying, ‘the government is not doing enough. We need to sensitize parents so that they can pressurize on the government to do what they are supposed to do, so we need that kind of sensitization and education so that we can see the need for us to make positive pressure on the government to do their own side in this regard.’