Why has there always been a debate as to if an African girl child needs to be educated? What makes an African girl child not fit to be educated? Why are most African societies gender biased when it comes to education?
These and many more questions comes to mind when you see an average African girl child at an age where she is supposed to be in school but you find her doing chores at home, selling at the market store or even being married off as a wife to a man who in most cases is old enough to be her father.
Education has and will always be a vital tool that is required for a successful life journey. It is very important as it is used to mitigate most of the challenges faced in life. The knowledge that is attained through education helps open doors to a lot of opportunities for better prospects not only in a career growth but in the general disposition of any individual be it boy or girl.
In Africa, it is all too common for girls to be excluded from formal education. Statistics has shown that in Sub Saharan Africa, some 16 million girls are not in school. Why? The answer to this question includes social, traditional, economical, political problems and so on.
Why should an African girl child be educated? The common response to this is because today’s girls are the leaders of tomorrow, entrepreneur, business moguls, wife and mother but is this really all there is to why an African girl child needs to be educated? It includes equipping her to be able to ‘pilot’ her day to day activities in whatever situation she may find herself in life. It includes the acceptance of gender equality and access to education, and its connection to the alleviation of poverty.
An African girl child needs to be educated because her education leads to positive growth in the economy. When you teach girls to read and write they tend to get good jobs in the workforce and contribute positively to the economy. While contributing to the economy, they earn a good income and in most times higher income which reduces the rate of poverty and dependency on their male counterpart.
Educating an African girl child also reduces early marriage and encourage fewer children. It is known that uneducated girls are always pushed into early marriage. We often see them being married off when they are still kids themselves. They can’t work or have a life of their own. They are only good for birthing children which shouldn’t be so.
When you educate an African girl child, you build up a child who is wise and exposed. A girl who has gone through the four walls of the University, explored the world and learnt a lot and is ready to give back to her society. An African girl child who is educated will not be forced into an early marriage. She will live out her childhood to its fullest and decide when and if she wants to settle down as a wife. She will give birth to the number of children she can care for and let her husband understand that women are much more than baby makers.
Improving female education, and thus the earning potential of women, improves the standard of living for their own children, as women invest more of their income in their families than men do. She will support her husband not only physically but financially and in so doing create a healthy home where children see both parents working hand in hand to make life easy and comfortable for them. Healthy homes birth healthy societies and in turn birth a great nation.
Educating an African girl child cannot be over emphasized as every child is born with a potential that needs to be harnessed and education is the right avenue to do so.
Education creates opportunities which should not depend on whether a child is born female or male. Therefore, it should play a role in shaping attitudes and transforming behaviours to improve a better society.
An African proverb says that if you educate a boy child, you educate one person but if you educate a girl child, you educate a family and a whole nation. This proverb is a simple reminder to us that today’s girls are tomorrow’s wives, mothers, caregivers, entrepreneurs, and leaders. They are the ones who will nurture the generation yet unborn hence educating girls is a major key to ending the cycle of underdevelopment and poverty.