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THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN CHILD’S RIGHTS ACT AND GIRL CHILD EDUCATION IN SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOLS

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THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN CHILD’S RIGHTS ACT AND GIRL CHILD EDUCATION IN SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOLS

 

ABSTRACT

 

The study examined the impact of girl-child rights on education in missionary secondary schools in Lagos State, Nigeria. The descriptive research design was used in order to assess the opinions of the respondents using the questionnaire and the sampling technique. A total of 300 (Three Hundred) respondents (made up of 150 males and 150 females) were selected and used in this study as the sample of the study which represented the entire population of the study. Five research questions were raised in the study and were analyzed together with the bio-data of the respondents using the simple percentage frequency counts, while two null hypotheses were formulated and tested using both the Pearson’s Product Moment Correlation Coefficient and the independent t-test statistical tools at 0.05 level of significance. At the end of the data analyses, the following results emerged: There will be no significant relationship between child’s rights act and girl-child education in Lagos State, Nigeria and that there will be no significant gender difference in the education of the Girl-Child due to the Child’s Rights Act in Lagos State, Nigeria. With the above results, it is summarized that there is a positive relationship between Child’s Rights Act and Girl-Child Education in Lagos State, Nigeria. Based on the above results, it became imperative to recommend that: Nigerian girl-child should be sensitized about their rights. Many of them do not know their Fundamental Human Right such as rights to education, right that could allow them to challenge and reject all conditions that seek to make them inferior, subjugate them, oppress and deny them equal access to policy and decision-making positions.

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

INTRODUCTION

 

Background to the Study

 

Primary education started in Nigeria in the 1840s with the advent of the missionaries and the traditional system of governance. The traditional rulers and chiefs who had the direct contact with the colonialists were very reluctant to send their children and wards to the early schools established because they were not sure of the motive of the British. Instead, the traditional rulers and chiefs sent children of slaves and others who were’ serving them as house-helps to these schools. It was after these; slaves became literate and were employed by the missionaries as clerks and interpreters that it dawned on the traditional rulers that it could after all be beneficial to send their children to school (Adeleke, 1997).

 

According to Ayodele (2000), the traditional education in Nigeria is such that the girl-child is made to understudy her mother while the boys are made to also understudy their fathers in their chosen professions. The expectation therefore, was that the culture of the people never encouraged the girl-child to do more than help out in cooking food and doing other domestic chores. Over time therefore, everybody imbibed the culture and the girl-child education suffered tremendously. Informal education was what the culture requires to train and prepare both men and women for survival. What is known as formal education was introduced to Nigeria with the advent of British rule and the coming of Christian Missionaries to Nigeria.

 

According to Awolowo (1981), education is that process of physical and mental culture whereby a man’s personality is developed to the fullest. To him, an educated man is one whose personality is fully developed, he never feels inferior to anyone, no matter the colour, stature or strength of such a person or individual, he or she is self-reliant, and will resist any form of embarrassment until the last breath in him is exhausted. Fafunwa (1979: 26), defines education as ‘the aggregate of all the processes by which a child or adult develops the abilities, attitudes and other forms of behaviour which are of positive value to the society in which he or she lives, that is to say, it is a process of disseminating knowledge either to ensure social control or to guarantee rational direction of the society or both.

 

Over the years, the girl-child has been grossly neglected (Oleribe 2002). Girl-child are left out in decision-making, utilized at homes without due remunerations, kept as home keeper and never allowed to earn a living for herself used by men as wife, by children as mother, by other women as house-girl and by men as bed-mate (Fishel, 1998; Oleribe, 2002; Sarwar and Sheikh, 1995). She has never ever been given a chance to make her own choices.

 

According to Ebigbo and Abaga (1990), in Nigeria, the rate of child abuse and child hawking has assumed a worrisome and alarming proportion. He further noted that in Ibadan, Ondo and Ogun metropolis, it is a daily occurrence to see children, especially the girl-children below 14 years, hawking wares and other products along the roadsides thereby depriving them going to school.

 

Christian Missionary Society (CMS) started both primary and secondary education in Nigeria. With this, even the girls that were opportuned to go to school got pregnant because of lack of self-discipline. They were forced to get married and this led them to bid good-bye to their educational careers. But the ugly trend and reluctance to send the girl-child to school because of cultural factors, which hither-to affected the growth of the girl-child education was checked as the Roman Catholic Mission (RCM) activities started in Nigeria in 1948. According to Oyedeji (2001), “The RCM opened girl’s convent school in Abeokuta in 1886, St Agnes College Yaba Lagos for the training of women teachers in 1933. Soon, there were schools for girls, both primary and secondary in some other parts of southern Nigeria”.

 

The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is no doubt the most widely accepted framework for action with respect to children. It is the most widely ratified human rights instrument. The CRC guides international efforts to identify the continual life conditions that put very young children at risk and pre-empt their healthy and optimum growth and development/education. The Convention can be used to actively promote the quality of care through policies and practices that young children need and are entitled to as part of their basic human rights (Angeles-Bautista, 2001). But twelve years after the ratification of the Convention and eleven years after the World Summit for Children, the Childhood Care Development and Education first presented at the OMEP Nigeria, 2001 National Conference, held at the University of Ibadan. The programme continues to face challenges. It is the duty of all those responsible for the care, development and education of young children to continue to remind governments and state parties of their obligations towards them (Bellamy, 2001).

 

Nigeria has ratified several human rights instruments including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and its Optional Protocol on individual communications, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD), the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and its Optional Protocol, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Nigerian child protection policy is rooted in the Child Rights Act, which President Olusegun Obasanjo signed into law in 2003 (UNICEF Nigeria, 2007). This defines all persons under the age of 18 years as children, outlining specific protections and prohibitions necessary to meet the mandate of providing all care necessary for child survival, well-being, education and development. The Act has been passed on a state level by 24 out of 36 Nigerian states (Defence for Children International, 2010). It covered child trafficking, child labour and child abuse, at the highest levels. A plethora of other policies and programmes, at national and international levels supplement this framework and provide tools for implementation.

 

Education is one of the fundamental rights of individuals. Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in December, 1949 stipulated that:

 

  • Everyone has the right to education. This shall be free at least in the elementary and primary stages.

 

  • Elementary education shall be compulsory while technical and professional education shall be made generally available.

 

  • Higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.

 

  • Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children (Nwangwu, 1976).

 

Since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948, the General Assembly of the United Nations has adopted numerous treaties, declarations and conventions concentrated on human rights including the right to education. The General Assembly refers most items relating to human rights to its Third Committee, which deals with social, humanitarian and cultural matters (Anynwu, 1990). The human rights of children are fully articulated in one treaty: the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) offering the highest standard of protection and assistance for children under any international instrument. The approach of the Convention is holistic, which means that the rights are indivisible and interrelated, and that all articles are equally important. The CRC defines a “child” as everyone less than 18 years of age “unless under the law-applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier.”

 

The World Summit for Children also held in 1990 re-emphasized that all children should have access to basic education by the year 2000 as well as increasing female literacy. Following the World Convention on Education for the Female Child (WCEFC), the Dakar World Education Forum (WEF) was held where new sets of education goals were stipulated to be attained by the year 2015. The goals include, amongst others, ensuring that all children, especially girls, in difficult circumstances and from ethnic minorities have access and complete free and compulsory primary education of good quality; eliminating gender disparities in pre-tertiary education by 2005, and migrating to gender parity in education by 2015, with a focus on ensuring girls full and equal access to basic education of good quality. Similarly, the Millennium Development Goals 2 and 3 reiterated the achievement of universal primary education and the promotion of gender parity and women empowerment respectively. Based on the developments, the Universal Basic Education Act (2004) and the Childs Rights Act (2003) documented that Nigeria government shall provide free, compulsory and universal basic education for every child of primary and junior secondary school age.

 

Access to education for girls is also affirmed in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), agreed in 2000 following the Millennium Summit and intended to be achieved by 2015. MDG2 is to “Achieve universal primary education” and MDG3 is to “Promote gender equality and empower women”. The girl-child education has been a burning and continuous issue in the developing countries of which Nigeria is one.

 

In spite of the fact that improvement and ordering of access to education has been a major goal ofAfricanGovernment since in the 1960s, the history of educational provision to date is a catalogue of enduring inequality between boys and girls and men and women. Again, though educational opportunities have indeed greatly expanded for all children in Nigeria, there is still an under-representation of females in schools, showing a disparity in educational access and achievement widened to the growing disadvantages of females (Gender Training Manual, 1999).

 

Nigeria is a signatory to many international conventions aimed at bringing the gender imbalance in education, yet the girl-child lags conspicuously behind. The 1984 Universal Development of Human rights states that “every person has a right to education”. Article seven (7) of (UNICEF, 1995) and the right of the child also states “every child (male or female) is entitled to receive free and compulsory basic education and equal opportunity for higher education based on individual ability.”( Ayande, 1990).

 

In 1990, the world Conferences on Education for All (EFA) held in Jomtien, Thailand, declared among others, that every person shall be able to benefit from educational opportunities designed to meet their basic learning. Despite the concerted efforts at national and international levels to bring about gender equality between boys and girls in many areas and particularly in education, in equality still persist worldwide. (Mamma in Eze, 2011), captures the fate of the girl child, “it is a well known fact that many parents in Africa give preferential treatment to boys especially in matters concerning education. It is really sad that up till now in some societies, girls are still made to live in their shadows, denied education and other rights, and socially exploited. What is more disturbing, is that even the passage of the child rights act into law in 2003 by Law makers in Nigeria on the issue of the girl-child education has not been fully addressed (Ayodele, 2000).

 

The child rights law seeks to facilitate the realization and protection of the rights of all children in the country regardless of their tribe, gender, and parents’ status. There is continuing national gender disparity in basic education enrollment, retention and completion against the girl child. -Available statistics revealed that we have about 10 million children in Nigeria, and 60 percent are girls who are presently not in school (Jackson and Walwana, 2009). The girl-child education has been a burning and continues issue in the developing countries of which Nigeria is one. The girl-child education can be compared to a coin which has two sides. This is because in the northern part of Nigeria, the girl-child is not encouraged to go to school, whereas in the Southern part of the country, reverse is the case. But culturally women are confined to their traditional roles with lots of sanctions imposed on them either by custom, norms or religion (Onyeaku, 2001).

 

It has been revealed that the girl-child education has suffered a lot in the society as cited by Mohammed (2008). This has been the case since independence in 1960. In the sixties, the situation was really break because out of 10 school children that went to school beyond primary 4, only one was a girl. Missionary activities started in certain parts of northern Nigeria before the turn of the century. In 1860s, Baikie of Christian Missionary Society founded a settlement at Lokoja. A school was opened the same year and instruction was given in Hausa and Nupe languages right from the beginning. The girl-child education in Northern states has been lagging behind all this while in terms of education one can wonder why the situation should persist like this in respects of the light of the clear provisions in National Policy on Education that education is a right for every Nigerian Child, The National Policy on Education (2004) also has as its 5th objective, the building of a “bright land full of opportunities for all individual”. Northern states in Nigeria as a whole, there is the presence of discrimination against girl-child in the access to basic education. The Northern region which is so much dominated by the Hausas who have no interest in girl-child education as it was viewed exclusively for the male child. The girl-child was not only denied formal education, but also the Qur’anic education. The few girls that attempted school during western education after the amalgamation in 1914 did that under duress.

 

The problems of the lack of girl-child education emanates from the root of:

 

  • The culture of the northerners

 

  • Religion

 

  • Poverty

 

  • Weak father figures and ignorant mothers who knew no better

 

  • Early marriage and

 

Placement of priority on the Boy-Child etc.

 

Therecent report to the African Union on the rights and welfare of the Nigerian child showed that about 6,000 children are in prison and detention centres across the country. Girls make up less than 10 per cent and they mainly come into contact with the law as a result of criminal acts committed against them such as rape, sexual exploitation and trafficking.

 

Statement of the Problem

 

The panacea of poverty, family disorganization and. societal true development has suffered several sets backs over the years due to socio-cultural and economic factors. Till date, girls constitute the largest population of illiterate children worldwide. Extreme poverty, mass illiteracy, large scale ignorance, high maternal mortality and fertility rates, child wastages and lack of access to health, education and social services may sound far and fictional to many indigenes and visitors.

 

The problems of girl-child education have been in existence since the introduction of British rule in Nigeria. Parents were very reluctant to send their female children to school. This was partly because the traditional system of education often dictates that the place of the girl or woman in the society is in the home. Many children, who should be in school, particularly girls, were involved in unpleasant acts such as child labour, child abuse, child trafficking, prostitution and were all deprived from Child’s Rights Act decree law enforcement. More often than not, these children were subjected to inhuman treatment as some suffer physical abuse, economic exploitation and denial of opportunity to education. Most of them were under-fed and if they are fortunate enough to be in school, they are hardly given any time to play and rest properly.

 

Mohammed (2008) opined that most girl-children are engaged in either  hawking goods on the street for their parents, and at some other times, the girl-children were engaged in early marriages as a result of parental poverty and financial problems where some parents cannot afford to pay school fees for their many children. In some families, parents who have many children select the boys and educate them, thus leaving the girl-children untrained and uneducated. Not only that, the girl-child has suffered enough discrimination among siblings and parents, and even the society and this has affected her education negatively. For instance, in many African traditions and customs, the girl-child is regarded as inferior to the boy-child, and this has made many African parents to devote more attention in training the boy-child than the girl-child.

 

The above identified problems, gave rise to the examination of the impact of child’s Rights Act on the education of the girl-child among students in Missionary Senior Secondary Schools in Mainland Local Government Area of Lagos State, Nigeria.

 

Research Questions

 

The following research questions were raised in this study:

 

(1) What are the cultural-factors affecting the girl-child education in Lagos State, Nigeria?

 

(2) What are the most perceived effects of lack of girl-child education by the students in Lagos State, Nigeria?

 

(3) How do students perceive the influence of child Rights Act on girl-child education in Lagos State, Nigeria?

 

(4) What are the solutions for implementing the Girl-Child’s Rights Act in Lagos State, Nigeria?

 

Hypotheses

 

(1) There will be no significant relationship between child’s rights act and girl-child education in Lagos State, Nigeria.

 

(2) There will be no significant gender difference in the education of the Girl-Child Due to Child’s Rights Act in Lagos State, Nigeria.

 

Significance of the Study

 

Students would be able to find the results of this study very important for them to use as a guide towards their works on the issues concerning child’s Rights Act and Girl-Child education in Nigeria in general and Lagos State in particular, especially students in the missionary secondary schools in the state. This is because the issues of the education of the girl-child are very vital issues that need to be paid attention to, due to the importance of the education of the girl-child in any Nigerian family.

 

The teachers in our secondary schools, especially in Lagos State, would be able to see the outcomes of this study as very important because they would have correct insights about the importance of training the girl-child in the Nigerian families.

 

This study will be beneficial to the government, especially the Ministry of Education, because it will assist them to be in the-know concerning the important role the education of the girl-child play in any nation of the world, particularly in Nigeria and Lagos State.

 

This study will be also be very beneficial to the society who will be in good position to have fair knowledge of the training of the girl-child in Nigeria.

 

Scope of the Study

 

This study examined the relationship between Child’s Rights Act and Girl-child Education in Lagos State, Nigeria. The study covered all the teachers and students in the Missionary Secondary Schools in the Mainland Local Government Area of Lagos State, Nigeria. This study was limited to access for the panacea of the Girl Child Education, Missionary Schools in LagosState; it did not take into consideration the other crucial issues in girl-child education like retention and equity, enrollment, quality and achievement in school subjects. It’s also restricted to missionary schools in Lagos state only. The major reason to conduct this research in only Lagos state was due to time and financial constraints.

 

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