The girl-child can be defined as a female from birth to 18 years of age. This is often the age before one becomes a young adult. This era covers the infant (0-5 years), childhood (6-12 years), and adolescent (13-18 years) ages. During this period, the girl-child is completely under the care of adults who could also be her family or guardians and older siblings during her developmental stages. Throughout this period, her personality is flexible: she builds and develops her temperament and character. She is very attached to the numerous others, those on whom she models her behavior, through observation, repetition, and imitation. Her physical, spiritual, mental, social, and emotional developments take place during this time.
Education is the process of providing information to people, mostly children, to assist their development physically, mentally, socially, emotionally, spiritually, politically, and economically. It could be a procedure through which a person acquires information and realizes his/her potentials and uses them for self-actualization, to be helpful to himself and others.
To educate means to coach the mind, character, and skills of individuals. Education, as an elementary right, ought to be made available to all regardless of age, sex, and nationality. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) affirms education as a fundamental human right. The significance of education in the life of an individual cannot be overemphasized. In each aspect of human existence, education is paramount. It is the salt that offers a taste to life; the medicine that cures; the light that drives away the darkness of ignorance and also the key that opens doors. The greatest favor one can do for himself or herself is to get an education and for others is to educate them. In line with a Chinese proverb, giving your child an ability is better than giving him a thousand pieces of gold.
Many ladies today don’t have adequate education. In most villages in northern Nigeria, once a woman is 12-14 years old, the elders within the community feel she is ripe for marriage and their words are LAW, thereby restricting her from rejecting their choice and standing up for her rights. A woman who is given out in marriage at a tender age is placed at very high risk and is not matured, skilled, or confident enough to be a mother.
The native ancient philosophy is that a woman’s place is in her husband’s home and her primary role is as a caretaker & child-bearer. The Child’s Rights Act of 2003 prohibits underage weddings and betrothal; any marriage involving spouses under eighteen years is invalid. When a woman is given out in marriage at a very tender age, to a man much more older than herself, her right as a human being has been abused, and as most Nigerians would say in pidgin slang, “she don marry her grandpa”. She has been denied her right to education and can be doomed to remain illiterate forever if her husband doesn’t offer her a chance to complete her education.
At the onset of colonialism, rigid discriminatory concepts against the female gender were part and parcel of the African mentality. Then, the woman’s role was relegated to just pleasure and hard labor – satisfying the sexual desires of men, serving as manual laborers in the farmlands, tending to children, and getting food ready. But, how can an underage female be able to execute these duties and still be responsible for her offspring? She is not matured enough to give birth and within the process of childbirth, may become exposed to life-threatening infections and even lose her life.
It has been established by researchers that validating and supporting female education is crucial to nation-building, and the role of women in national development cannot be underestimated. It is a widespread belief that when you educate a man, you educate a person; but when you educate a woman, you educate a nation. This stands to reason that the education of each child starts from his/her family and the mother is the initial teacher. Educating the woman child gives rise to literate mothers who can in turn educate their children, take care of their families, and provide society as a whole with more human resources.
Therefore, educating the girl child interprets to increased health standards for the coming generation, reduction in child morbidity and mortality, thus triggering a snowball effect of achieving all alternate results and goals practically. The girl child must be educated to access the information and skills required to enhance her degree of social interactions and self-improvement.
The woman child’s education conjointly prepares her to face the truth in society and teaches her to be an honest partner and mother. Once she is educated, she realizes the total potentials hidden within her; she discovers she can be whoever and no matter what she desires to be, with education, she would break the shell of mental capacity and open that of self-discovery.
The Child’s Rights Act should be reinforced in all states of the country. This will go a long way in checkmating indiscriminate child abuse. This is often because if women do not stand up for their rights and remain uneducated, they remain dependent on their folks before marriage, on their husbands during the marriage, and their children if eventually, their husbands die. Would you as a concerned, caring, and loving father or mother want to see your girl child in this predicament?