Advocacy Visit To Kaduna State Commissioner of Education on Need for Policy to Back Free and Compulsory Education for Girls

THE Africa Media Development Foundation (AMDF), on Tuesday called on the Kaduna State Government to develop a policy document to guide the implementation of free education offered for girls by the state government.

AMDF Executive Director, Mr Iliya Kure, made the call in Kaduna, when he led other officials of the NGO on an advocacy visit to the state’s Commissioner for Education, Dr Shehu Makarfi.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that the Kaduna State Government had, in Sept. 2018, declared free education for girls in public secondary schools in the state.

Government had attributed the gesture to the need to address the gender gap and remove obstacles standing on the way of the girl-child’s desire to enroll in school, acquire education, graduate and contribute to national development.

Kure, who lauded the initiative, however, said that developing the policy and implementation framework would demonstrate government’s commitment and provide clear direction for the success of the programme.

He also said that the policy document and adequate budgetary provision for implementation would equally guide development partners willing to support the government on areas to direct their interventions.

He said that a data obtained from the Kaduna State Development Plan 2016 – 2020, showed that female completion rate in primary school in the state was 35.1 per cent.

“The document also shows that the completion rate of females in senior secondary school is only 23.4 per cent as against their male counterparts which stood at 27.8 per cent.

“This is worrisome, especially when the population of girls in secondary schools is usually higher than that of boys.  The estimated figures show that 58.7 per cent of secondary school students are girls, while boys account for 41.3 per cent.

“We are aware that the pronouncement of the free and compulsory education for girls in public secondary schools across the state was to close the gender gap and remove all obstacles to girl-child education.

“The step, if well implemented, will increase enrollment, retention and completion rate of girls attending public secondary schools by 53.5 per cent.

“It will also reduce maternal mortality by 10 per cent, child and human trafficking by 30 per cent, and enhance economic development.

“But, as laudable as the pronouncement is, there is no policy to back it and guide how the programme will be implemented and sustained,” he observed.

While noting that the initiative would cost the state government more than N430.8 million annually, he said that it would ensure significant progress towards a stable, prosperous and healthy state.

Also speaking, Mr Benjamin Maigari, the Project Manager, explained that the advocacy for the policy formulation had the backing of the United States-based Public Health Institute, under its `Rise Up’ project.

“The goal is to strengthen partnership and engagement with key stakeholders so as to push for the formulation of the policy in the state hopefully by 2020,” Maigari said.

Responding, the commissioner thanked AMDF for the commitment and passion to support the state government to improve the delivery of quality education to girls.

“The number of girls that dropped out of school in the state is very alarming; we expect the offer of free education for girls in public schools to address that,” he said.

The commissioner promised that government would partner and work with the NGO to develop the policy that would guide the implementation of the initiative.