Nigerian First Lady commits to promote girls' education
BAUCHI, 28 March 2008 - “To the extent that illiteracy impedes progress and development, the measure of the success of Nigeria’s national restoration efforts would be greatly dependent on the level to which we succeed in living up to the pledge of equal opportunity in education as advocated in the National Policy on Education, and further espoused in the Universal Basic Education policy.” With these words, the Nigerian First Lady Hajia Turai Yar’ Adua launched the State chapters of Nigerian Girl’s Education Initiative on 28 March 2008 in Bauchi, Northeast Nigeria.
Addressing a gathering of influential people including the Governor of Bauchi State, Malam Isa Yuguda; the Minister of State for Education, Hajia Aishatu Jibril Dukku, the wives of four Northern State governors including the wife of the governor Bauchi State, Hajiya Aisha Yuguda, UNICEF Nigeria Deputy Country Representative, Dr. Robert Limlim, representatives of DFID, FOMWAN (Federation of Muslim Women Association of Nigeria), FAWE (Forum for African Women in Educationalists) and members of CSACEFA country wide, (Civil Society Action Coalition on Education for All), the First Lady who accepted the position of the grand patron of the Nigerian Girls’ Education initiative promised to use her position to improve girls access to education while addressing gender disparity in education especially in the northern states where the disparity is more glaring.
In her speech, the Minister of State for Education, Hajia Aishatu Jibril Dukku, noted that every Nigerian child has the right to equal education as enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution, irrespective of gender, social status, age, religion, ethnic background, geographic location and any peculiar challenges. She said the Federal Ministry of Education, DFID and UNICEF have partnered to promote girl-child participation in Basic Education in the six states of Bauchi, Borno, Jigawa, Niger, Sokoto and Katsina as initiative to fast track gender parity in these areas. She enumerated the focus of the Federal Ministry of Education as including the following:
Bauchi State, the venue of the launch of the state chapters of Nigeria Girls’ Education Initiative is indicative of the situation of Girls education in Nigeria, especially in the northern part of the country. It has one of the lowest enrolment rates of girls in schools. The state is one of the six states in which UNICEF is intervening with the Girls’ Education Project, a DFID funded initiative to bridge gender disparity in girls’ education in northern Nigeria.
The GEP initiative has achieved major milestones in girls’ enrolment and is now being scaled up. According to the Bauchi State governor, “It is gratifying to note that there has been modest increase in enrolment of girls’ in the six GEP focal Local Governments from 2004/2005 to2006/2007. The total female enrolment in the six Local Governments rose from 17, 244 in 2004/2005 to 27, 873 in 2006/2007”. This prompted the scaling up of the project to the remaining 14 Local Government Areas in the State.
During an interactive session with the UNICEF team, the First Lady made full commitment to supporting girls' education, assuring that as a mother of four daughters and two sons - with most of them university graduates already - she knows the value of education and would always support its cause. She gave commitment to work with UNICEF in aid of girls' education, particularly in her new role of the Grand Patron of NGEI.
During the meeting, the Deputy Representative, Dr. Robert Limlim made a powerful presentation on how the First Lady can influence the cause of education in Nigeria through policy, budgetary allocations and monitoring the implementation of policies and expenditure of allocated funds.
This launch, which was fully covered by the national and international media like the BBC and Voice of Germany, is intended to open the way for other State launches with a view to raising the profile of Girls’ Education, garner commitment from State actors and generate more allocation of resources for girl’s education throughout the country.
For further information, contact Media & External Relations, UNICEF Nigeria Country Office: