Oyo State: Female Students Set Agenda for Girl-Child Education 

By: Olubunmi Osoteku, Ibadan 

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In the bid to set an agenda for the education of the girl-child for the next administration in Oyo State, girls from selected secondary schools in the state have expressed their expectations from the next administration, in order to eradicate illiteracy.

The female students, who appealed to the state government to ensure that every girl has access to education, irrespective of location, stated that government should also ensure that parents and guardians send their female children and wards to school, without showing undue preference of boy-child over girl-child.

The girls made the appeal during the screening of a 21-minute documentary – Breaking Barriers: The Journey of Girl-Child Education in Nigeria, held in Ibadan, the state capital and organised by a non-governmental organisation, Onelife Initiative, in partnership with Youthhub Africa and with support from Malala Fund.

The documentary, which focused on the importance of educating the girl-child, highlights some of the challenges being faced to include: funding, lack of facilities (laboratories, sick bay, toilets, sanitary materials, etc.), outdated curriculum, poor teacher training, lack of text books, distance, overcrowding and the need to educate boys about menstruation, among others.

Six schools were represented at the screening — Immanuel Secondary School 1 and 2, Sango; Immanuel Grammar School, Sango; Oba Akinbiyi Secondary School, Mokola; Humani Alaga Secondary School, Sango and Eleyele Secondary School, Eleyele, Ibadan.

Also present were representatives from the Oyo State Universal Basic Education Board (Oyo SUBEB), Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), National Teachers’ Institute (NTI) and Oyo State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Inclusion.

After the screening, there was a panel discussion which had Omolaja Blessing from Eleyele Secondary School; Obiakor Esther, Oba Akinbiyi Secondary School; Mrs Abiola Oluwayemisi, Oyo State Ministry of Education; and Mrs Omotayo Adebayo, Haven Initiative, an NGO.

Prize quality

One of the issues raised during the panel discussion were the need to improve on the quality of prizes given to students following their participation in competitions, the need for government to deliberately have qualified and brilliant teachers in rural community schools, and the school curriculum being overly burdensome and challenging to complete.

Furthermore, it pointed out that the scenes from the documentary are real and the data showing the number of girls out of school was saddening, expressing the hope that the leadership of the Ministry of Education would work with teachers and relevant agencies to support teachers to make their classes lively, even where the subjects are difficult ones

New learning experience

The Executive Director of Onelife Initiative, Mr. Sola Fagorusi, explained that the idea behind the documentary and bringing the female secondary school students to a cinema was to give them a new learning experience.

Fagorusi said: “We also want to hear from them on what they want the government and other stakeholders to do to further improve the quality of their education, especially now that new and old political office holders will be setting new agenda at the federal and state levels on education.”

He explained that Onelife Initiative made the intervention through its Governance and Policies saying: “We use in-depth research, and our knowledge networks to help young people make sense of governance processes and systems by providing simplified information and resources to them through easy-to-access channels in education, health and other development areas.”

Representing the state Ministry of Education, Deputy Director, Secondary School Services, Mr J.O. Oladapo disclosed that research had pointed to the high intelligence quotient of females all over the world.

Oladapo noted that girls were being incorporated into public affairs, but when girls are denied education, they are denied opportunities to showcase their talents and also contribute to nation-building.

The documentary was planned to generate conversations and actions among high-level stakeholders on the issue of girl-child education in Oyo State, and intended to have the public catch a glimpse of what the expectations of the girl-child and their guardians are for senior secondary education.


Olusola Akintonde

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