“Once you educate the boys, they often leave the villages and search for work in the cities. But the girls stay home, become leaders in the community and pass their knowledge onto their own children. If you really want to empower societies, reduce poverty, improve basic hygiene and health care, reduce the population explosion and fight high rates of Infant and maternal mortality, the answer is to educate the girls’.”Greg Mortenson
According to UNICEF, over 5.5 million girls are out-of-school. 40% women and 28% men have never attended school (NPC, 2009), nearly two-thirds of women in the North West and North East regions have no education, compared to less than 15% in the South South (ibid.). The Net Enrolment Rate at primary school level is 56% for girls and 61% for boys (UNESCO, 2014), Drop-out rates are highest at the sixth grade of primary school and higher among girls than boys (NPC, 2009).The disparity between the number of girls and boys even in secondary school remains high especially in the world’s poorest countries. Considering that women constitute half of the world population today, more than ever, it is evident that without educating girls and women in secondary school, sustainable development will not be achieved.
The girl-child is a biological female offspring from birth to 18 years of age. During this period, the young girl is totally under the care of the adult who may be parents, guardians or elder siblings. It is also a period when the girl-child is malleable, builds and develops her personality and character. She is very dependent on others on who she models her behavior, through observation, repetition and imitation. Her physical, mental, social, spiritual and emotional developments start and progress to get to the peak at the young adult stage. (Sutherland, 2001).
With the acquisition of skills, the girl child in adulthood contributes a lot to societal development. A woman’s education affords her the opportunity to take advantage of family planning facilities which results in fewer births of children and less social and economic burdens on families and society in general. According to Ottaway (2000), the girl-child’s education also has bearing on the economic well-being of a country. With education, in adulthood, the girl child could easily gain employment in the formal labor force and therefore contribute not only to her family income but the National GNP. Higher education enables girls to provide financial support to their families especially now that the economic recession has made it impossible for a man to provide adequately for his family with his meager income. Thus, an educated woman with a good earning power can help reduce the financial problems of the family and thus avert frustration and other financial problems. Also, should the inevitable occur e.g. death or divorce; the educated widow can easily cater for her children’s welfare.
A woman’s literacy also increases productivity and self-employment in the informal sector for example; the educational level of rural women is linked to increased productivity in agricultural sector in many developing countries. Literacy assists people to acquire skills and knowledge that help to facilitate better use of natural resources and other agricultural inputs and thereby increasing their productivity. Thus, girl-child being active participants in all stages of the productive chain, i.e. hoeing, weeding, fertilizing, harvesting and threshing of grains, storage and distribution of goods when educated to increase productivity and their incomes.
Educated girls in adulthood are more likely to participate in political discussions, meetings and decision making which in turn promotes a more representative, effective government. As more women are educated and approach parity with men, research shows “governments and other institutions function better and with less corruption.” According to “What Works in Girls’ Education.”
Our society and the world at large will have a lasting transformation in its economy and social sector as long as the girl child is educated.