Gender issues in Education and by Extension National Development had taken center stage in academic discuss in recent times. These issues had addressed women participation in Education, Women Empowerment, Feminism, sexual abuse/violence, women affairs commissions, gender inequalities etc. This paper believes that these relative gender issues are consequential in Northern Nigeria and educationally disadvantaged states. The paper thus discussed the roles of education and rights to educational opportunities by Nigerian citizenry. The paper also examined and applauded the pivotal roles of women to national development. It further characterised the position of women in Northern Nigeria from the standpoint of socio-economic disadvantages and proposed the enforcement and repealing of obsolete laws so as to dismantle all forms of impediments against the development/advancement of women in Northern Nigeria and the Nigerian women in general
Education is an instrument of power, prestige, survival, greatness and advancement of men and nations. It is also an agent of change, a key to knowledge and accelerated development. Education had also been viewed as a continuous process where individual continue to learn, re-learn and un-learn norms, values and attitudes to make them fit to the society they live.
Various successive governments in Nigeria had placed education at its focal agenda in their service delivery to its people. The seven-point agenda of the present government can be said to revolve round education and integrated national development.
“Navigating” the works of Danladi (2006: 1), he sees education as a process that will bring about all-round development and progress of individuals and the society in general. He also cited Obanya (1995) who argued that education ought to be responsive to the needs of the society it is intended to serve.
Gender issues in education had attracted national, international and intellectual recognition and interests. The perspectives of their various interests and focuses had been on human rights, women inequality, women empowerment, girl-child educations, feminism, female educational opportunities performance etc. It is the opinion of this paper that these relative gender issues are more prevalent, obvious and consequential in Northern Nigeria and other educationally disadvantaged states in Nigeria.
ROLES/RIGHTS TO EDUCATION NIGERIA
The roles of education and rights to educational opportunities and advancement had been clearly documented and enshrined in relevant documents in Nigeria and world-wide.
The national policy an education revised (2004) stipulates the following objectives of education in Nigeria viz:
· To provide functional literacy and continuing education for adults and youths who had never had the advantage of formal education or who did not complete their primary education (Nomads, migrants and the physically challenged.
· To provide functional remedial education for those young people who did not complete secondary schools,
· To provide for different categories of people a formal education to improve their knowledge and skills,
· To provide in-service, on-the job vocational and professional training for different categories of workers and professionals in order to improve their basic skills and knowledge,
· To give the adult citizens of the country necessary aesthetic, cultural and civil education for public enlightenment.
The provision of the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria FGN (1999) on education is enshrined in section 18(1) that:-
“Government shall direct its policy towards ensuring that there are equal and adequate educational opportunities at all levels”. It also stated that government shall eradicate literacy and to this end government shall as and when practicable provide free compulsory and universal primary education, free secondary education, free university education and free adult literacy education and that no one shall be discriminated on the basis of sex, race religion etc.
The universal declaration on human rights adopted by the United Nation General Assembly in 1948 stressed that everyone has the right to education which shall be free at least in elementary and primary stages.
It has also been documented by the United Nation Economic Social and Cultural Organizations UNESCO declaration in Dakar 2000 as follows:
1) Expanding and improving comprehensive early childhood care and education especially for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children.
2) Ensuring that by the year 2015, all children with special emphasis on girl-child in difficult circumstances and from ethnic minorities have access to and complete free and compulsory qualitative primary education.
3) Ensuring that learning needs of all young people and adults are met through equitable access to appropriate learning and life skilled programmes.
4) Achieving 50% improvement in level of adult literacy by 2015 especially for women and equitable access to basic continuing education.
5) Eliminating gender disparity in primary and secondary education, by the year 2015.
6) Improving all aspects of quality education and ensuring excellence for all so that recognized and measurable learning outcomes are achieved in numeric and life skills.
From the following theoretical and statutory legal positions on the goals of education and rights of every citizen to education, the view points can be decomposed into three conceptual clarifications thus:
1) The role of education to national development had been stressed and therefore should be accorded its optimum focus in a plan of action for National development.
2) Gender equality had been upheld. It therefore means that all forms of gender differentials and inequalities that may be observed in Nigerian educational system are institutionalized and man-made hence should be dismantled.
3) Free, early and compulsory education for the girl-child with a focus on skill acquisition will enhance national development.
WOMEN AND NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT: AN OVERVIEW.
The position of women in Africa had been seen from the perspective of a second class citizen to men. They are viewed as those who look after the homes, bear and rear children for the men. According to William (1990:134), women are preoccupied with looking after the homes, men and the children. In his views, Read (1996:19) he wrote that women are female human being, mistress and servants who does the domestic chores (cleaning and cooking).
The economic position of women had been well documented by Aderemi (1997:211). He stated that women wield substantial economic power integrated into the macro and micro economy. He further stressed that women control the bulk of local and long distance trade, dominate the food processing and cottage industries, and participate actively in agriculture and health care.
It had also been stressed that women are home makers and are known to be able to cope with jobs that are repetitive in nature such as agriculture, cooking and other skilled vocational occupations. The World Bank (2004) year book revealed startling reports about women thus:
· Women constitute about 50% of world population. NPC (1991) puts Nigerian male: Female as 44,544531 and 43,969,970. Women comprise 75% of the world’s illiterate people. (This may be higher in Africa)
· Women head up to 30% of world’s household
· Women produce about 50% of the world’s food
· Women received only 1/10 of the world’s total income
· Women own less than 1/100 of the world’s real properties
These theoretical and empirical positions about women points to the fact that for any functional and sustainable plan of actions for national development, it should be focused on the women populace
IMPEDIMENTS TO THE GIRL-CHILD EDUCATION IN NORTHERN NIGERIA
A number of factors and practices affect the girl-child education in northern Nigeria. These include poverty/child labour, illiteracy/ignorance, easily marriage Islamic religious practices and social stratification/family background. Socio-cultural value, peer influence etc.
Most girls within the age bracket of 12 – 15 years are contracted or conscripted into marriage without prejudice to the health and socio-psychological hazards involved. The parents due to poverty are left with no option than to resolve to faith. Such females are completely denied assess to educational opportunities.
It is common practices to see girls of school age hawking various article of trade in urban and rural area in Northern Nigeria. This situation had been blamed exclusively on the unacceptable poverty level in Nigeria
Closely related to poverty and child labour is ignorance and illiteracy. The value of education had not been fully acknowledged by most parents in Northern Nigeria particularly those that reside in the remote villages.
Islamic Religious Practices
The Northern Nigeria is predominantly secular. The Islamic moral tenants based on chastity discourage fornication. Based on this belief most parents encourage their females to marry at the expense of formal schooling.
The socio-cultural set up in most part of the Northern Nigeria encourages the education of males in favour of the female who are expected to perform various domestic chores at home.
Due to peer group influence most parents and their female children tend to borrow/adopt obnoxious practices detrimental to girl-child education. They would not want to be branded exception to societal practices.
Family Background/Social Stratification
The social background and family structure of the girl-child to a large extent depend on their chances of enrolment to formal education. Enlightened parents or families in Northern Nigeria do not discriminate against female education.
The list of these militating factors may be winding, threathful and very consequential to the girl-child education particularly his Northern Nigeria.
With the Nigeria 7-point agenda, vision 2020 and millennium development goals of 2015 in view, there is the need to bridge all forms of educational impediment to the girl-child education. The following recommendations had been proposed.
It had been observed that gender bias exist in girl-child education in Northern Nigeria. The danger of this trend cannot equate the merits of educating the prospective housewives, mothers and career women. By extension, their contributions to national development cannot be quantified. We hereby join the crusade to dismantle all forms of institutional and man-made impediments to girl-child education in Nigeria.
Even though recommendations had been made in the past aimed at improving the girl-child education, not much had been done to enforce the recommendations, policies and programmes. Nevertheless, the following approaches may further amplify the needs for female education for sustainable Natural development.
1) Government should put in place the necessary legal instruments endorsed by the legislative arm of government to prohibit and prosecute those that encourage gender bias to girl-child education.
2) Government should launch massive and aggressive functional adult literacy education in all states and local government councils in Northern Nigeria.
3) Individuals, communication networks and non-governmental organization should sponsor educational campaign through the mass media, rallies, seminars, workshops and conferences to discuss the needs and way forward for girl-child education.
4) Religious leaders and organization should preach the needs for formal education as a necessary tool for advancing spiritual fulfillment.
5) Scholarship and bursary should be given to females to encourage them to progress in their educational pursuits.
Aderemi O.D (1997): ‘The role of Women in Vocational Education for Economic Development”
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FGN (2004): National Policy on Education. Abuja Federal Government Press.
FGN (1999): Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Lagos, Federal Government Press.
FME/UNESCO (2000): Quoted from Blueprint on Basic Education. Abuja, Federal Ministry of
Schoolarship and Bursary should be given to females to encourage them to Progress in their
NPC (1991): Demographic Population Distribution Lagos, Federal Government of Nigeria Press.
Read, A.W. (1996): The International Webster’s Comprehensive Dictionary of English 3rd ed. 1 (2)
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UNESCO (2000): in National Economics Empowerment and Development Strategy (2004) Meeting every one’s needs Abuja FGN Publication.
World Bank (2004): Yearly Gazette, Abuja Central Bank of Nigeria.