By Titilayo Kupoliyi

There is a maxim that “when you empower a girl-child, you are empowering a nation”.

However, few weeks to the general elections, manifestos of political parties in Oyo state does not reflect plans for the girl-child education.

Statistics by United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, 2021 states that 16.3 per cent of female children are out of senior and junior secondary school in Oyo state.

To this end, a Non-Governmental Organization, “One Life Initiative” organized a meeting with Civil Society Organizations, CSOs and other stakeholders in the education sector in Oyo State to brainstorm on the way forward.

Managing Director, “Onelife Initiative” Mr Sola Fagorusi, in a Presentation titled ‘What are the aspirants promising” showed that none of the political parties feature did not include the girl-child education in the manifestoes and needed to be addressed.

Mr Fagorusi pointed out, that inclusion of the girl-child education must be intentional, not lumped up together with the issue of education.

“The needs of the girl-child is actually different. A lot of conversation about reproductive health, teenage pregnancy, expectation of society from them and issue of quality education as well.

“The truth is that, if you solve the problem of the girl-child, you have solved the problem of everybody including the boy child”.

“If you look at the home, the major drivers are the mothers, very unlikely you have a woman who is educated and her children will not be educated. When it comes to issue about health as well, the girl-child is also the major victim sometimes of child marriage.

“It would impact on the girl-child as many of them will be interested in going to school leading to increased number as well as quality of education.

The summary of manifestoes showed that:                                                         

-The Manifestoes are most general

– None of them addressed issues of the girl-child in particular

– There is no specific documentation around what will be done for the girl-child

– Each Government needs to account for what is being done, it is an issue of public interest and trust.

Contributing, Executive Director of another NGO, Youth Hub Africa, Rotimi Olawale, stressed that it was imperative for political office holders to prioritize girl-child education as this was needed to fight poverty.

“Girls are disadvantaged when it comes to education, if you look from primary to secondary through tertiary, girls are more at a disadvantage, so the need for the stakeholders meeting”.

“While opinions will be aggregated and presented to the different political parties for implementation”

Mr. Olawale pointed out that the organization was ready to work with whichever party that emerges.

Nigerian Union of Teachers, NUT, Oyo State Chapter was represented by the assistant secretary, Mr Amuda Adegoke, said the programme was one of its kind and pledged the Union’s support in the fight against the neglect of the girl-child.

Earlier, Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Oyo State, Barrister Rahman Abdul-Raheem who spoke through the  Director of Schools, Mrs Olukemi Bolaji, identified education as a tool through which ignorance could be reduced.

The commissioner described the meeting as the right step, in the right direction.

“ I am highly elated to be amongst this gathering of a passionate group of people whose intention is geared towards redirecting, re-strategizing and improving the state of education of the girl-child and most importantly, all children within the state”.    

The meeting had in attendance Journalists, Education Stakeholders and Civil Service Organizations.

The meeting concluded that security should be beefed up around the schools while enough funds should be made available and judiciously utilized for education.

Highlights of the meeting include group discussions and various presentations focusing on girl child education.

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