The convention on the rights of the child defines “child” as every human being below the age of 18. Every child’s rights are granted to such person in terms of their civil, political, social, economic and cultural life.
The girl child in Africa suffers relatively greater deprivation and neglect than her boy counterpart. The girl child is forced to perform like an adult long before she is physically or biologically ready – performing household chores, playing “mother” while she herself needs mothering. Gross school enrollment ratio for the girl child is still very low, while the dropout rate is high (teenage pregnancies, poverty, etc.).
Girls also suffer greatly by being subjected to harmful cultural practices such as female genital mutilation and early marriages. Fundamental challenges facing the African society are, among others, how to mobilise and enhance the continent’s human resources. The girl child is the woman of tomorrow and investing in her should be a no-brainer.
Many development experts are increasingly recognising that women’s role to economic development can be enhanced though education and failure by many nations to educate the woman is frequently cited as a significant cause of poor socio-economic condition.
Looking at the thematic area of concern of the National Gender Policy 2010-2020 of the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare (November 2015), the policy has 12 critical areas of focus, which include “education and the girl child”. The rationale is that women can be better agents of economic growth and development if sufficient investment is made in their skills and education. Evidence from a number of countries in Africa indicates a direct correlation between educational attainment levels of mothers, and the socioeconomic welfare of household members. For instance, in a study carried out in Zambia by V.
Seshamani in 1993, it was reported that the total fertility rate of mothers with no education was 7.1. For mothers with primary school education the ration stood at 6.8, and 4.9 for women with secondary education. The same study demonstrated that the under-5 mortality rate amongst children from mothers with no education stood at 204.4, those with primary school education 181.7 and those with secondary school education 134.8. It is therefore important that more resources are invested in the education of girls, which has a definite high rate of return to society.
Fortunately, available data in SADC region shows that enrollment between boys and girls at primary level is more balanced. Observation in the society demonstrate a clear proof of empowerment of the women who make the majority of the working force in sectors like banking, education, administration, fishing factories, business industry, etc.
An opportunity therefore should be afforded for society to explore, debate and provide technical support to reduce more inequality in education and improve education retention rate for girls and boys.
* Reverend Jan A. Scholtz possesses a Diploma in Theology and B. Theology from South Africa. This is written in his personal capacity.
New Era Reporter
2018-11-07 10:19:11 6 months ago