African Journal of Historical Sciences in Education 2 (1), 2006.
ROLES OF UNITED NATIONS CHILDRENS’ FUND (UNICEF) IN REVATILIZING GIRLS'
in a world where inequality reigns. This inequality manifests itself in various spheres in
Women are at the heart of most societies. Regardless of whether they are working or not, mothers are very influential people in children's lives. Educating girls is one of the most important investments that ay country can make in for its own future. Education has a profound effect on girls’ and women's ability to claim other rights and achieve status in society. Having an education can make an enormous difference to a woman's chances of finding well - paid work, raising a healthy family and preventing the spread of diseases such as HIV and AIDS (UNICEF, 2004).
Women with at least a basic education are much less likely to be poor. Providing girls with one extra year of schooling beyond the average can boost their eventual wages by 10 to 20 per cent (Psacharopoulos, & Patrinos, 2002). An educated woman is 50 per cent more likely to have children immunized against childhood diseases (Summers, 1994)
Despite the importance and necessities of women
education, there are still 58 million girls worldwide who are not in school.
The majority of these girls live in Sub-Saharan Africa and South and
In September 2000,188 heads of state from around the world signed Millennium declaration and established the Millennium Development Goals (MDGS). While most goals aim to achieve significant progress in development by 2015, one of the goals was to be achieved by 2005 - gender parity in primary and secondary education.
recent UNICEF publication, "Progress for Children", reporting on progress made on primary education,
shows that the current rate of progress in Nigeria is too slow to achieve gender parity by the
end of 2005 and Universal Primary Education by 2015, the target dates for
Nigeria's achievement of the UN Millennium Development Goals in Nigeria. In
Nigerian girls are still disadvantaged in their access
to education. As a result, all do not register
for school and those who register do not attend regularly, often dropping out
of learning very little (United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative, 2005). The
gender gap favoring boys has remained consistently
2003, the Ministry of Education in
Educational Level in
The most important issue in any country is the number of
girls that have access
to education and quality of education they receive as measured by levels of retention and
performance. Despite several efforts to increase enrollment and reduce gender gap,. significant
increase in access to education
still show declines in the overall proportion of girls’ enrolled at different levels of education system. The gender
gap has not narrowed across the continent of
for African Women Educationists (FAWE), a pan African non -government organization, that seeks
to promote the education of women and girls in Africa had done a lot to improve the education
of the girl children in
Education is essential for improving women's living standards and enabling them to exercise greater voice in decision making in the family, the community, the place of paid work and the pubic arena of politics. Basic literacy and other basic skills are absolutely vital to women's empowerment, and without the skills acquired in secondary education, women cannot obtain better paid employment (UNIFEM. Biennial Report).
The national literacy rate for females is only 56% compared to 72% for females, and in certain states, the female literacy, enrolment and achievements rates are much lower, for example, girls net enrolment in Sokoto, one of the six target states under UNICEF African Girls' Education initiative, is 15%, compared to 59% for boys (UNICEF) HQ 92-0
Why Girls Should be Educated
Education of girls is a vital factor in dealing with root causes of poverty and under-development. That girls' education directly contributes to sustainable development is no longer an issue. It is now documented that educating the girls and women is the singe most important investment that yields maximum returns for development (FAWE, 2001). Infant mortality rates decrease, children have a higher probability of getting a good education and most importantly, women become income generators, which increase the economic power-base of the family.
There is overwhelming evidence that there is a direct relationship between education and development. The more developed countries show high levels of participation in education for both males and females. Health is an important development indicator. Better health for a nation implies better quality of live and more productivity. UNICEF (2004) has documented that women who are educated provide better nutrition for their families and more children survive the early years.
An educated mother will realize the need for maternity, pre-natal and post-natal care. According to UNICEF (2001) "poor and uneducated parents lack the information needed to provide optimum care for their children, increasing the risks of childhood illness and childhood mortality". Educated mothers will almost always want their children, both girls and boys to acquire better education than they themselves received. This is critical in sustainable development because of the need to break the poverty cycle. UNICEF (2001) observed that 'Poverty' does not stop in one life cycle"
A girl born in poverty is more likely to marry early and have a child while still an adolescent. A malnourished girl becomes a malnourished mother, who will give birth to an underweight baby (UNICEF, 2001 P. 33)
Women who can write and keep records, hold position of authority and participate in several associations or development groups. It is quite true that in many African societies, women may not be the key decision - makers either in their homes, local or national levels still, there is evidence that an educated woman will make a useful contribution to the decision making progress both at home and outside the home. The educated women are able to negotiate their rights and are aware of their responsibilities.
researchers, Cochrane, Ohara and Leslie (1980) King
(1990, 1993) Rufai (2001) have given some compelling economic
justifications for increase
in investment in girls education, which was considered to be one of the best investments a society could
make. According to them, there are high social rates of return from educating girls. The
above researchers linked female education to Gross National Products (GNP) growth, increased
productivity and labour
force participation, decreased infant and maternal mortality and increased child health. Girls
education is therefore a must for developing countries not only for
Access to qualitative and functional educational opportunity for girls is perhaps the most effective means to combat poverty, reduce misunderstanding, political and religious intolerance as well as lack of respect for others which had been the major causes of revolts and intermittent civil wars in West African sub-region. Osokoya (2004) claimed that Female and Girl-child education would not only move West African Countries forward economical, politically and technologically, it would go a long way to liberate the women folk from their natural state of dependency, inferiority and other shackles that impede national development.
Millennium Development Goals
The year 2000 marked a milestone for the development community. During the year, various United Nations Organizations set up a list of goals targeted for 2015. This is known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). The goals focus on a more "human-rights based and multisectoral approach towards development" (UNICEF, 2004).
Some of the developmental issues addressed by MDGs are: eradication of extreme poverty and hunger; achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality and empowering women, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, ensuring environmental sustainability and creating a global partnership for development. The 2004 Annual Report of UNICEF highlights two of these goals -the achievement of universal education and promotion of gender equality.
The secretary of state for International Development was reporting in January 2005 that when leaders from around the world come together to take stock of the Millennium Development Goals, it will be glaring that they have collectively failed to keep the promise. Despite the much progress, a child without an education is still much more likely to be a girl than a boy.
order to assist in achieving the Millennium Development Goals, some multinational organizations had
The Roles of UNICEF in Revitalizing
the Education of Girls' in
national awareness on girls education through public awareness
campaign, rallies and seminars.
schools' technical capacity to develop girl-friendly school
environments, and helping communities to sustain girls' education.
government and other stake holders in reviewing
existing curriculum and teaching materials for gender sensitivity.
the employment of female teachers to serve as role models
and increase parents' confidence that their female children will not
face sexual harassment in school.
e) promoting the development of
pedagogical skills that will enhance the participation of girls and improve learning outcomes
(ANGEI ,2005). In 2003, the Ministry of education adopted the strategy for
UNICEFs' current education programme,
which focuses on both girls' education and the promotion of child-friendly schools, will enhance the
multi-sectoral approach to schooling. UNICEF, with
the Federal Ministry of Education,
is currently implementing a large scale programme to
accelerate girls' education
in the Northern part of
UNICEF has achieved a lot in supporting the Nigerian Government in the following initiatives:
of a National Policy on Education that acknowledges
the need to equalize education, as opportunities between girls and
of a Universal Basic Education programme that will focus
on improving access, retention, a quality curriculum delivery for nine
years of formal education.
childhood care and development of primary education, adult
literacy, and education of all undeserved groups, including girls, are
integral components of the programme.
together with Government and its partners had started work
in six target states with the lowest female literacy rates in three key
advocacy activities by meeting with PTAs, traditional
rulers, religious leader,. NGOs and community groups to build support
for girls' education.
(1) Promoting the employment of more female teachers; establishing more girls only primary schools and organizing rallies on the negative effects of child labour, especially for girls.
(g) Improving the quality of educational service delivery to enhance girls' participation and improve learning outcomes, retention, and achievement, by providing in-service training for teachers, administrative and inspectors, and by evaluating the curriculum for gender sensitivity.
(h) Improving the learning environment by refurbishing schools, providing classroom furniture, books and materials, water and toilets for each of the five schools in six states.
sustainability and community ownership of this initiative by empowering the community and
building capacity at the grassroots level. (UN1CEF. Girl Child Education in
Conclusion and Recommendations
It is already a known fact that girls' education is a necessary and important aspect of eradicating poverty. The most critical thing as the third millennium is progressing is to make sure that at the individual, family, community, national and global levels, that our girls, the future wives, mothers and citizens of Nigeria are not left behind as the world moves on to greater heights in technology and information.
In order to ensure the full participation of girls in their own lives, in the lives of their future families and also in the development of the country, the factors militating against their full participation in education must be removed. If this is done, there will be increase in the number of girls that will acquire secondary and post secondary education as well as acquire appropriate skills for development. A deliberate effort is needed to remove these hurdles; also, an integrated approach to eradication of poverty by all stake holders should be adopted.
Cochrane, S.A, Ohara, D.J. and Leslie, J. (1980): The Efforts of
Education on Health. 12. World Bank Staff Working Paper.
Department of International Development (DFID).(2005). Girls
education: towards halter Future for all. U.K. Department of
Federal Ministry of Education (2003): http://www.cishsdney
2005.org/Images/Isreal Osokoya A/024.doc
Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE) (2001): Girls'
Education and Poverty Eradication: FAWE's Response
. http://www.Fawe.org/ pub!ications/GE 1 Series/Gedpoverad.pdf
Murzi, E.GL (2003. "Girl-Child Education Initiative Opportunities for
Private Sector" in Eagbulu. I and Aderinoye, R (eds.) Nigerian
Sector and Girls'
Osokoya, I.O. (2005): Female and Girl-child Education as a
development challenge in the former British West African States:
http://www. CIShsdney 2005 org/images/Isreal Osokoya
Psacharopouloes, G & Patrinous, H.A. (2002): Returns to
Investment in Education: A further update Journal of Human
United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) (2001): Literacy Situation
UNICEF (2004): The state of the World's Children.
UNICEF (2004): Garden Parity Needs a Multi-Sectoral Approach. UNICEF
State of the Worlds Report. http://www. The dailystar.net/
magazine/2003/1 /03/human. Html
Nations (Girls' Education Initiative (2005):
Leaders call for accelerated progress on girls' education in
United Nations Girls' Education Initiative (2005):
http://www.ungei.org/ gapproject 2005015htm
UNICEF (2005): Girls' Hducation