Brilliant Girl-child Education initiative:A step in the right direction
By Bara’atu Nasidi
Education is a human right that should be given to all humans equally regardless of their gender, religion or nationality. Education has been universally recognized as the bedrock of socio-economic development, as well as an all-encompassing tool for poverty eradication. It is unanimously agreed that girl-child education is as important as, or even more important than that of their counterparts thus the saying: ”educate the girl and empower the nation” .
The relationship between education and development is deeply rooted and intertwined, such that education is a lay index of development and no meaningful development can happen without education. That is why there has been a lot of emphasis on education especially in this age and time. Unfortunately, armed with all the arsenals of NGO’s and their projects in order to speed up girl-child education, the situation in northern Nigeria leaves much to be desired. Part of a report by Unicef reads: “ …With children under 15 years of age accounting for over 45 per cent of the country’s population, the burden on education and other sectors has become overwhelming. 40 per cent of Nigerian children aged 6-11 do not attend any primary school, with the Northern region recording the lowest attendance rate in the country, particularly for girls…It is estimated that about 4.7 million children of primary school age are still not in school”.
I know this will not come as a surprise to anyone due to recent events in our great nation, which some of us term as ‘blessing in disguise’ as the incident became an eye-opener to all stake-holders, that special attention needs to be given to education particularly in the north-eastern part of Nigeria. With education- and loads of it for that matter- we can neutralize the ugly scars that the Chibok Girls abduction-saga has imprinted on the sands of history. Some blame the government of the day, while the government also blamed some individuals and the blame game continues, but to what end? The menace persists with or without Boko Haram in the picture. As we speak, the gap between boys and girls in school enrolment, for example, is still 2:1 sometimes 3:1 especially in the north-eastern states.
Bauchi state government is one of the north eastern states where the government is making a lot of effort in improving the education of the Girl-Child. The governor Barr. M.A Abubakar has gone extra miles to close the disparity because education is so close to his heart. I was delighted to find out that 20% of the overall budget of the state goes to education and his Deputy Governor, Architect Nuhu Gidado is given the onerous task as commissioner of education just to be certain it is neatly done.
And as I looked at the many NGO’s active in the girl-child education area in bauchi state, I narrowed my search to one that looks more grass-root oriented and profoundly impactful. One that is very recently introduced, but stands taller than most for apparent reasons, one of which is the integrity of the people involved.
Generally, the second reason for initiating most NGO’s is always personal i.e. self-empowerment, money or fame but not for Barr. Aisha MA Abubakar, wife of The Executive Governor of Bauchi State ,she founded the Brilliant Girl-Child Education Initiative,(BGCEI) solely because of her concern for the girlchild, she wanted to see she did all in her power to help their plight .Right before coming to office, Barr. Aisha with her colleague hajia Amina Nuhu Gidado,wife of the deputy governor had researched thoroughly to get first-hand information of the menace ,and then committed themselves to not just doing something about it, but doing it right by working with the stakeholders and other NGO’s who had gathered experience in the field.
Brilliant Girl Child Education Initiative is also one of the stakeholders which has been trying to close the gender disparity in Education. Premised on the fact that education is a right and not a privilege, they are on their way to making sure that every girl gets her right. According to Her Excellency, Barr Aisha MA Abubakar ; “every girl is brilliant. Once they put effort and heart into anything, they can achieve it”. Both Barr. Aisha and hajia Amina are very passionate about this project because as educated women, they know exactly how education will help break the cycle of poverty, develop our society and country as a whole.
BGCEI ‘s aim is to create a state where every girl has the opportunity to develop her full potential towards contributing to the development of the state through working with communities and different stakeholders to provide quality education to the girls.
Their Objectives are
- To improve positive attitude and behavior towards girl child education
- To work with government to provide adequate facilities and teachers and meet the need of the already existing girl-child schools.
- To increase enrollment, retention and completion of girls in primary and secondary schools.
- To reduce girl-child labour in the society.
With their primary target being under-privileged girls and communities that are at disadvantages, they would provide scholarships,necessary school materials and a suitable environment for their education. They intend to cover the whole of Bauchi state, one local government at a time.
With just a few months of being founded, they have been able to make progress by meeting stakeholders and religious leaders and organizing engaging classes where Emirs from the Emirate Councils, to teach the girls in person in other to encourage them and re-emphasize the importance of education to them. Not just that, BGCEI is reaching mothers and teachers to sensitize them about their mission and vision, so that they know what roles they need to play.
As a stake-holder, I think the ground is clear for me to come out and contributing my own quota to Girl-Child Education. We shall do this by keeping close watch of BGCEI’s activities and sharing with the world so that we elicit more action from more actors, until the Girl-Child is finally adequately empowered. At last, when history judges us, mine would not be brutal. What about you?