As the world marks the 2019 International Youth Day with a focus on “Transforming Education”, the Africa Media Development Foundation (AMDF), calls on the Kaduna State Government to back its pronouncement on free and compulsory education for girls in public secondary schools with a policy document and implementation framework.
Gender disparities in education are compounded by deep-rooted forms of inequality based on wealth, ethnicity, residence and disability, among others. Girls from financially less privileged homes are reported to drop out of school, and in worse cases not enrol at all, because their parents cannot afford to pay their tuition fees.
No doubt educating girls contributes significantly to the development of a stable, prosperous and healthy nation, whose citizens are active, productive and empowered. Girls’ education spurs positive effects on social and economic development for generations to come. One extra year of schooling increases lifetime earnings by up to an estimated 10%.
This year’s theme of the IYD, “Transforming Education” seeks to highlight efforts to make education more relevant, equitable and inclusive for all youth, including efforts by youth themselves. This is in line with Goal 4 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”.
Making education more relevant, equitable and inclusive is crucial to achieving sustainable development goal. Education is a ‘development multiplier’ in that it plays a pivotal role in accelerating progress across all 17 Sustainable Development Goals, be it poverty eradication, good health, gender equality, decent work and growth, reduced inequalities, action on climate or building peaceful societies.
Unfortunately, in Kaduna state, education outcomes are dismal with low student attendance and high dropout rates. The Kaduna State Development Plan, 2016-2020 reveals an estimated 37% of students drop out by primary six. In terms of gender distribution, the population of girls in secondary schools is usually high, estimated at 58.7 percent compared to males, 41.3 per cent; but the females have the highest non completion rate of any of the grades, 24.8 per cent compared to males with 20.7 percent.
As the day examines how Governments, young people and youth-led and youth-focused organizations, as well as other stakeholders, are transforming education and how these efforts are contributing to the achievement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, AMDF acknowledges the effort of the Kaduna State government towards free and compulsion education. However, the organization enjoins the government to take the gesture further from just pronouncement to an implementable policy backed by the necessary documents towards a holistic and quality implementation of free education for girls.
According to Kaduna State Education sector plan 2017 – 2019, benefit of the free education for girls programme include, increase in enrolment of more than 200,000 girls in school in 2019 alone, increase in completion of girl education in public secondary schools in the state by 53.5%, reduction in maternal death by 10%, as well as reduction in human trafficking by 30%.
AMDF believes that a policy document on the free and compulsory education for girls in public secondary schools will close the gap in education in the state, as the document will clearly define roles and responsibilities and provide adequate resources and synergy across relevant MDAs.
This will help the state government achieve its goal in terms of enrolling, retaining and completion rate of girls in public school.
As we reflect on the need to transform education, we call on not just the government, but parents to ensure the girl-child is given as much opportunity as her male counterpart to enjoy her right to education. Girls’ education is good economics. It is the best investment in a country’s national development. Educating girls enhances growth rates and reduces social disparities.
Sekyen Dadik (Mrs)
AMDF Programmes Coordinator