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Girlchild Education: How Poverty ends the education of many girls in Northern Nigeria

Hussaina Musa, a 13-year old is one of the over 130 million girls out of school in the world. Hussaina like many girls in northern nigeria in her shoes, dropped out of school not because she wants to get married but simply due to cost her widowed mother could not bear.

Hussaina’s mum, now 28 year old married since she was 15 in Sabon Gayan, a community in Kaduna State. She gave birth to 6 children including Hussaina, before death snatched her husband. And this was when Hussaina’s travails began.

“I left school not quite long because I could not afford the expenses it involved any further. I was in primary 3 when I stopped going to school” in the words of Hussaina, who is ambitious to return to the classroom and learn.

No thanks to poverty as it has forced about 51 million girls out of school in Africa. Majority of parents in the region live below poverty line and governments have continually paid lip service to education sector. Budgetary provisions has remained in a single digit and insufficient too.

Educating Hussaina like many girls from their poor communities like Sabon Gayan, a settlement located 15 kilometres on Kaduna- Abuja highway can dramatically improve her health, wealth, and potential. She’s less likely to become a child bride, contract diseases like VVF, or die at during pregnancy. And she could help lift her family — and her entire community out of poverty into prosperity.

Apart from poverty, other factors militate against the education of the girlchild including; culture and beliefs, lack of schools or basic teaching aids, early marriage which efforts are high to end by governments, the UN system and other key players but poverty has remained unabated.

Notably groups such as Christian Aid Nigeria (CAID_ Nigeria) project has made inroads in Hussaina’s community; Sabon Gayan and advocates for collective action for Adolescent Girls Initiative (CAAGI) in Kaduna. CAAGI is a CAID_Nigeria funded programme among others aimed at improving the choices and opportunities available for adolescent girls in Kaduna State.

“I want to go back to school but there is no power. If I have the opportunity, I want to return to school to continue with my friends and become a big woman in future so I can help others in my category and those who don’t understand the importance of going to school.” Hussaina declared.

To keep Hussaina’s dream, governments at all levels especially in the north must increase funding to education, provide employment and empowerment for many faced with poverty in communities such as Sabon Gayan.

Kaduna State Governor, Nasir Elrufai had announced a free education policy in the state in 2015 but that has remain a mere pronouncement, as many pupils in public schools sit on the floor to learn in many schools across the state due to lack of basic learning tools like desk and chair.

Concerted efforts must be made to ensure many girls like Hussaina gets the chance to go to school and learn to transform their lives to become ‘big women’ in the future. But if nothing is done and urgently soon, even more girls will be left behind.

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