In this piece, the acting Vice Chancellor of Kebbi State University of Science and Technology, Aliero, Professor Bello Shehu Malami, spoke to AROWONA ABDULAZEEZ on the need to encourage girl-child enrollment in university education.
Women folk have continued to face challenges ranging from marginalisation among others by their male counterparts, strict government policies, norms and traditions, religious beliefs as well as societal values. The abduction of over 200 students of the Government Girls School, Chibok, Borno State, over a year ago, which is a violation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Childs to Education, has worsened the case.
This has however tremendously reduced the number of girls in school, especially in the northern parts of Nigeria, thereby exposing them to all sorts of abuses ranging from rape, hawking, alms begging, child trafficking as well as early marriage among others. As the circumstances leading to such factors persists, the nation has lost millions of its best brains (would be inventors) mostly females to such unfortunate scenario, which has made her to continue to crawl even when there are opportunities to move geometrically.
It is therefore obvious that the strength and future of any nation is rested in the tendency and ability of the children especially females to have good upbringing and transform into young people, joining the league of Nigerians who will soon be at the political centre stage of the country.
However, in the face of this, the Acting Vice Chancellor of the Kebbi State University of Science and Technology, Aliero, Professor Bello Shehu Malami, has advocated for the repositioning of the status of the women especially young ladies in a bid to enhance national growth as part of the Sustainable Millennium Development Goals.
The VC who spoke to Nigerian Pilot Saturday, lamented the low level of enrolment of females in education in the country generally, and the northern parts in particular and especially in Science and Technology, described it as one of the major challenges facing the nation’s education sector.
According to him, “We have been attracting female candidates to take up admissions in our institution. However, I will not attribute it to science and technology alone. The rate of enrolment of girls in education in this state is still very low on the wide gap. I personally feel bad and shed tears whenever I see our girls roaming the streets.
“We have the children, we have the schools and we are attracting them to enroll but it is still a very big issue for us to get them in. That is why I said we are going to organise a summit on education in collaboration with Kebbi Elders’ Forum. The problem is widespread, it is not only restricted to the females, it also extends to the males.”
Malami added, “In a seminar organised in Sokoto State, if you see the statistics of JAMB in the last three years as it affected Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara States, you will shed tears and more so, the problem has come to be traditionally inclined, our culture is really taking us down.
“If you look at other northern states like Kogi, Niger and others, I don’t see any reason why we cannot compete with them. We believe that with good mobilisation, part of our culture tying us down will be abandoned and parents will allow their children come to school, I think as that changes, I am sure we’ll also record a reasonable change in our rate of girls enrolment in schools.”
The VC therefore stressed that the university was highly concerned about attracting quality students, especially females for admission adding that the quota given to them by JAMB is problematic even as he expressed confidence that organising education summit in the state will further improve the persisting ugly situation.
Reports show that the completion of the second Millennium Development Goals, MDG target i.e. ‘education for all’ by 2015 is at risk after having missed the initial deadline of 2005. In Nigeria, educational facilities are generally believed to be inadequate and access is limited for many, especially girls and women. According to the United Nations Human Development Report (2005), Nigeria was classified as a low development country in respect of equality in educational accessibility.
The ‘Nigerian tradition’ was explained as a tradition that attaches higher value to a man than a woman, whose place is believed to be the kitchen. A study by the University of Ibadan linked the imbalance in boys’ and girls’ participation in schooling to the long-held belief in male superiority and female subordination. This situation was further aggravated by patriarchal practices, which gave girls no traditional rights to succession. Therefore, the same patriarchal practices encouraged preference to be given to the education of a boy rather than a girl.
It is also said that the decline in economic activities since the early 1980s has made education a luxury to many Nigerians, especially those in rural areas. Because Nigerian parents are known to invest in children according to sex, birth order or natural endowments, girls and boys are not exact substitutes. Often the family can only afford to send one child to school. Because daughters have assumed responsibilities in the home, she is less likely to be the one to attend school.