Girls and boys have the same rights to a quality education. But the ‘gender gap’ becomes painfully evident when looking at who is in the classroom. The need for the female education in the society is not only imperative but it is indispensable for the socio-economic development of Nigeria. Nigerian girls are still disadvantaged in their access to education. The study was therefore conducted to assess the parental attitude on female education in some selected secondary school in Ado Ekiti. It was a descriptive cross sectional study aimed at providing baseline information for subsequent intervention. The sample size was 370 parents, students and teacher. Equal number of male and female respondents was sampled and the sampling technique was random sampling technique. Data collection was through researher administered questionnaire. The data obtained was analyzed by the computer using the statistical package for social sciences (SPSS) software package, version 15. The study revealed that the perception and attitude of respondents towards female education was good. Over 90% of respondents were aware that education is a child right. Over 90% of them also think that enrolling female-child in secondary school is important. Most of the respondents believed in enrolling their female-child in secondary school between the ages of twelve and fifteen and about 90% of them thought that female child should be educated up to the tertiary level. There was still a lag in secondary school completion among girls with a higher value when compared with the boys. The percentage of female drop out from secondary school was 8.2% compared with 2.7% for males. Poverty was the major cause of female children’s school dropout among respondents.
Background of the Study
The importance of education to human beings cannot be over emphasized. Education is a human right that should be accorded to all human beings solely by reason of being human. The relationship between education and development is well established such that education is a key index of development. It has been documented that schooling improves productivity, health and reduces negative features of life such as child labour as well as bringing about empowerment (UNESCO 2002).This is why there has been a lot of emphasis particularly in recent times for all citizens of the world to have access to basic education.
The importance and linkage of education to the development of any society is well known. It is in recognition of this importance that the international community and governments all over the world have made commitments for citizens to have access to education. Meanwhile, it has been documented that across the globe, there are inequalities in educational access and achievements as well as high levels of absolute educational deprivation especially in children (Subrahmanian, 2002). Girls constitute the largest population of illiterate children in the world till date (Otive, 2006). The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights stated that every person has a right to education. In 1990, the World Conference on Education for All which took place in Jomtien, Thailand, declared among others that every person shall be able to benefit from educational opportunities designed to meet their basic learning needs. In realization of the importance of the female child, concerted efforts are being mounted by the governments at various levels to improve female participation in education and redress the gender inequalities in education enrolment and retention. UNICEF’s long-term goal is for all the children to have access to complete and quality education. The international goals connected to girls’ education include Millennium Development Goals, A World Fit for Children Goals and Dakar Goals (World Education Forum).
In 1990, 20% of the world’s secondary school aged children were out of school, two-third of them is female. About 25% of the world’s girls are not in school as at 1999 (Newsletter, 1999). Estimates in 2002 indicated that the number of children out of school had been brought down to about 115 million worldwide; 62 million were girls (UNICEF, 2005). While there were more children than ever in the world’s primary schools, far too many remain absent- the majority girls (UNICEF, 2005).
All regions have increased overall school enrolments- the world average was 81% by 2002 – but the number can be deceiving. Regional variation is enormous, Latin America and the Caribbean enrolment rates are close to North America and Western Europe, 94% and 97% respectively; South Asia lags behind at 74% and sub-Saharan Africa languishes at a mere 59% (UNICEF, 2005).
Many Third World or poor developing nations face severe economic pressures and this usually gives little room for designing and initiating programs to improve female education. It has been observed that some measures could be adopted even within tight financial limits to redress gender inequality in educational enrolment and retention (Danladi, 2003).
Nigeria has had a National policy on education since 1981; it has not been implemented effectively and efficiently due to rapid population growth, insufficient political will, a long period of undemocratic governance and poor management of scarce resources (UNICEF, 2002). The national literacy rate for females is only 56%, compared to 72% for males and in certain states the female literacy enrolment and achievement rates are much lower (UNICEF, 2002). Meanwhile, the education system in Nigeria is guided by the broad National objectives which are articulated in the National Policy on Education. At its inception in 1999, in response to the challenges in the secondary education sector, the Universal Basic Education Act (2004) and the Child Rights Act provide the legal framework for the implementation of the program, which makes basic education not only free but also compulsory (UNICEF, 2002). In addition, as a signatory to the 2000 World Education government has also established a National EFA coordination unit under the Federal Ministry of Education mandated to prepare a National Action Plan for the delivery of EFA in Nigeria.
The failure to educate girls can be overlooked when reviewing the data. Girls are often ‘invisible’- not reported or underreported. Countries report averages and conceal very serious gender disparities between internal regions and economic and ethnic groups (UNICEF, 2004).
The gender gap in secondary school enrolment has narrowed during the 1990s. The ratio of girls’ gross enrolment rate to boys’ in developing countries increased from 0.82 to 0.92. But girls’ secondary school completion rates lag, 76% compared with 85% for boys (UNICEF, 2004).
Statistics indicate glaring imbalances against girls in enrolment, attendance and completion rates in all levels of education in Nigeria, particularly in the northern parts of the country, due to a variety of socio-cultural and religious factors (Otive, 2006). A recent estimate has sub-Saharan Africa at its current pace achieving universal primary education by 2129 (UNICEF, 2004). Extraordinary progress in Africa must be made in the next few years if the ‘Education for All’ goals and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are to be met by 2015.
Most children have two main educators in their lives – their parents and their teachers. Parents are the prime educators until the child attends an early years setting or starts school and they remain a major influence on their children’s learning throughout school and beyond. The school and parents both have crucial roles to play. There is no universal agreement on what parental involvement is, it can take many forms, from involvement at the school (as a governor, helping in the classroom or during lunch breaks) through to reading to the child at home, teaching songs or nursery rhymes and assisting with homework. This can be categorized into two broad strands:
- Parents’ involvement in the life of the school.
- Their involvement in support of the individual child at home.
Statement of the Problem
In Nigeria, men and women have their own role to play for the benefit of the society. Men are said to be the head of the family, while the women took care of the children and house. This practice has been on for generations, it thereby stands as a draw-back to female in many fields especially education.
Education of boys is considered more important because they are made to look after their parents and family, while the girls would be married out. These attitudes of parents toward the female education were very common in native parts of Nigeria. Some parents still believe that secondary school education is the highest they can offer their female children because they see them as temporal members of the family. All efforts made by parents are to ensure their male children attend school to place them in better position than female in the society.
Training of female child in the past was regarded as a waste to the family in the sense that the money spent on their education can never be regained; they are unlike the male child who will in return care for the family and also continue with the family name. Most African countries believed that women are in the home for domestic chooses; therefore the female are seen to be future home careers. When they get married, they tend to forget their parents and focus on their new home.