UNICEF defined the girl child as a female human being below the age of 18. The term education is the process of imparting knowledge and skills either formally or informally. Education is a powerful weapon and instrument to improve the status and development of women and render women less vulnerable to inequity, exploitation, sexual abuses and harrassment. Even the World Bank have full knowledge of the important of girl child education which is why they stated that ‘there is no investment more effective in achieving development goals than educating girls’, thereby validating the saying that goes ‘when you educate a girl you educate a nation’. The education of girl child in the northern part of Nigeria has always being an issue for national and international organizations working tirelessly to achieve universal basic education for all. According to UNICEF (2007), the global figure for out-of-school children is estimated to be 121 million, out of which 65 million (approximately 53.8%) were girls.
The summary of statistics recorded shows that the percentage of girls who either dropped out of school, completed just primary education or never attended school are way higher than that of boys in northern Nigeria. The Federal office of statistics (2004) shows that, literate women constituted only 20% from the North -West, 20% North- East, and 45% from the North Central. This states the level of underdevelopment of women to men in the north. The reason for this is because of the already held gender inequality view in northern Nigeria especially, which has crippled great potentials in girl child and has placed them in a place of vulnerability and disadvantage with regards to their education and empowerment.
Most parents of girl child in the north feel there is no point of educating her at all or educating her up to tertiary level because of their early child marriage practice. For this reason, they feel their daughters will eventually end up as wives to their husbands, giving birth to many kids and their place would eventually be the kitchen. Hindering girl child the right to education in northern Nigeria are hitched around many factors like early marriage, teenage pregnancy increasing the number of school dropouts, poor background, amongs others factors are reasons for the hindrance. Poor parents in the north who can’t afford the means to send their wards to school especially with the predominant high birthrate among northerners, these parents would then prefer to send their male wards to school, denying the females the right to education thereby resulting to gender inequality and increasing the rate of boys school enrollment to that of girls.
Educating girl child is promoting the individual’s economic growth in a long run and to a large extent the nation. When a women is educated she works and earn a living for herself thereby developing herself or is an employer to others thereby providing a means of livelihood to them and causing national economic development. Another benefits is that prominent women who go through formal education tend to motivate and be pacesetters to those young girls striving to succeed academically and also make a mark.
Parents should be educated on the need to allow and do what it takes to see their girl child through school and not subject them to early marriage or teenage pregnancy, this will go a long way in allowing for gender equality. Also the government should take the issue of girl child marriage serious so they won’t be forced into any union, only when they are physically and mentally ready and punish parents forcing marriage on their young girls instead of education.