MARKING the International Day of the Girl-Child, IDGC, on Tuesday, October 11, the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund, UNICEF, has again, advocated for dismantling of any form of discrimination against the girl-child and to provide them with leadership opportunities. The day which is designated for promoting the rights of girls and addressing the unique challenges they face, came with the theme “Girls Progress- Goals Progress: A Global Data Call”, is aimed at stimulating worldwide enthusiasm to achieve sustainable development goals to better girls lives. Conveying the message at the event held at the National Centre for Women Development, NCWD, UNICEF Nigeria GEP3 Manager, Teija Vallandingham, explained that the sustainable development goals renew energies to close gaps of inequalities and inequities. The Manager stressed in addition to goal no.4 of their agenda, “Inequitable Quality Education – reducing inequality in education also tackled by two of the 17 SDGs – SDGs 8 and 10, as  they are addressing commitment to leave no one behind. “In Nigeria, girls face different forms of discrimination that inhibit their development, especially access to quality education.” GEP3 manager said. On the concept of basic education in Nigeria, Vallandingham said on the average, 10.5 million children are missing education, 77% are expected to never enter school, while drop-out rate is very insignificant compared to those expected never to enter. According to Vallandingham, if you are a girl, living in a rural area, and in a poor household, in the Northern and particularly North-Western part of Nigeria, you have multiple disadvantages as it was established that there’s a gap difference of 23% in attendance rates between children in urban and rural areas. A global survey by UNICEF- Harnessing the power of data for girls to take stock and look ahead for 2030, 3 key issues were deduced including the burden of unpaid household work that begins in early childhood for girls that intensifies as they reach adolescence. The report shows that girls work 160million more hours than boys doing household chores every day. Also, the uneven distribution of chores between both genders make girls believe their primary role is at home among other factors. To address the imbalance in the system, UNICEF has proffered several intervention procedures, including increased demand for and support to girls’ education, improved capacity of teachers to deliver effective learning and improved governance  to strengthen girls’ education to mention a few. Meanwhile, the Director, Basic and Secondary Education, Federal Ministry of Education, Mrs. Anne Okonkwo who was represented by Mrs. Lorreta Ogbobilea, Deputy Director, Special Education, noted that the Ministry has been partnering with UNICEF since 2003 on promotion of girl- child education as Nigerian Government has been working to ensure they gain access. She said government has been indulged in high level advocacy visits to policy makers, traditional rulers/emirs on the importance of the girl-child education, institutionalising of Student Tutoring, Mentoring and Counselling, STUMEC in schools, which is on-going plus other efforts. Similarly, the Executive Secretary, Mass Literacy, Adult and Non-Formal Education, Prof. Abba Haladu stated the platform provides stakeholders the opportunity to highlight, discuss and take action to advance rights and opportunities for girls everywhere

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