British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, has stressed on the need to strengthen the girl-child education in the country.
Speaking at a virtual conversation hosted by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to commemorate the International Day of the Girl-Child, Laing described girl-child education is a powerful agenda; central to poverty reduction, a key to prosperity and a means of reducing early pregnancy and child marriage.
Speaking on the theme: “Empowering Girls Through Access to Education”, Laing further said that many aspects of girls education were important, including its power to improve life expectancy, peace, stability and the economy.
‘If a mother is able to read and write, her child is more likely to live beyond the age of five, be immunised and also more likely to complete school.”
The high commissioner, however, said that educating girls in Nigeria was still a big problem despite the giant strides made since the adoption of the Beijing declaration.
According to her, if the demography issue must be dealt with, women have to be given access to family planning in order to reduce the rate of out-of-school girls.
“Leadership is another issue that needs to be worked on if girls will have access to quality education. We have seen other countries that also have traditional practices in place turn education around.
“We need leaders from the grassroots to put education at the heart of a wider strategy to achieve all its benefits. Education is a huge priority for the UK and our approach is to go back to the basics and that means investing in teachers, helping them to undeharpnd how to do lesson planning and so on.” Ling said.
She noted that commission was passionate about education, not just because it matters, “but because it is necessary to achieve other issues that are important for all countries, particularly Nigeria’’.
Peter Hawkins, the Country Representative of UNICEF in Nigeria, said that it was essential that all girls’ voices and actions were heard to ensure an equal future for them.
“The celebration this year focuses on re-imagining a world shaped by adolescent girls’ voices, vision and solutions to the key issues hindering their access to quality education.
“It focuses on the positive side of what they can achieve and the role models they can aspire to meet, especially in a country like Nigeria. It also brings to the attention of all partners, the need to support girls to acquire new skills towards their future,’’ Hawkins said.
He said that about 150 girls across Nigeria have been supported with digital literacy skills and creative writing in the past three days.