Article by Philemon Manchang

The say which says that ‘educating a girl is watering another man’s garden’ is true because better lives for girls means better lives for everyone in their community- their brothers, fathers, future husbands and sons. In Africa today, the girl child’s power in terms of control, ability, authority and influence are restricted and limited by harmful attitudes and practices such as female genital mutilation, son preference which results in female infanticide, early marriage, including child marriage, violence against women, sexual exploitation, sexual abuse, discrimination against girls in food allocation and other practices related to health and well-being especially the negative effect of certain tradition or customary on girl children. As a result, fewer girls than boys survive into adulthood and realising there potentials. When girls are specially included in education, health, and economic investments, Africa has a better chance of preventing those harmful attitudes and practices.

The African leaders has to encourage and support, as appropriate, non-governmental organizations and community-based organizations in their efforts to promote changes in negative attitudes and practices towards girls. Also to set up educational programmes and develop teaching materials and textbooks that will sensitize and inform adults about the harmful effects of certain traditional or customary practices on girl children. To also ensure universal and equal access to and completion of primary, secondary, higher education, including vocational and technical education, for all girls, including the disadvantaged and gifted. Develop and adopt curricula, teaching materials and textbooks to improve the self-image, lives and work opportunities of girls, particularly in areas where women have traditionally been under-represented, such as mathematics, science and technology.

Our government has to promote human rights education in educational programmes and include in human rights education the fact that the human rights of women and the girl child are an inalienable, integral and indivisible part of universal human rights. Alongside increasing enrolment and improve retention rates of girls by allocating appropriate budgetary resources and by enlisting the support of the community and parents through campaigns and flexible school schedules, incentives, scholarships, access programmes for out-of-school girls. Also  to develop training programmes and materials for teachers and educators, raising awareness about their own role in the educational, health, agricultural and economic processes, with a view to providing them with effective strategies for gender-sensitive teaching.

One thing that is making Africa not to move forward is not really lack of policies and good measures, but its lack of the implementation of both existing and new policies and measures by our leaders. Implementation of those policies and measures on girl children will help them to rediscovered and exploits their potentials as a result of active participation in economic, educational(science and technology), agricultural and health sectors, politics, entrepreneurship, decision-making by serving as fuels or catalysts in transforming Africa’s future. Those changes has a positive ripple effect as an educated mother, an active productive citizen and a prepared employee, she is the most influential force in her community to break the cycle of poverty.

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