Gender equality is a controversial topic in Nigeria. In 2019, Senator Abiodun Olujimi re-introduced the ‘Gender and Equal Opportunity Bill at the Senate to guarantee the rights of women to equal opportunities in employment, marriages, and education. However, it has rejected.
Education increases the upward socioeconomic mobility of women. Okeke (2008) posits that access to education means free and fair, unlimited, unhindered, and unfettered opportunities at each level of education to obtain knowledge, skills, and abilities available at that level needed to optimally participate and contribute to development in the society.
Therefore, access to quality education is germane to national development. Olagunju (2018) states that unlike women in developed countries who are, in relative terms, economically empowered and have a powerful voice that demands an audience and positive action, women in developing countries are generally silent and their voice has been stifled by economic and cultural factors.
These and more are some of the challenges the National Policy on Gender in Basic Education seeks to address. This policy focuses on increasing girls’ access to education. It states that in Nigeria, girls have lower enrolment rates than boys informal basic education system. This scenario is much more serious in the northern states. To buttress this, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reports that “States in the north-east and north-west have female primary net attendance rates of 47.7% and 47.3% respectively, meaning that more than half of the girls are not in school”.
The national policy on Gender in Basic education highlighted factors hindering equitable access to basic education, some of which are: poverty, cultural factors, erroneous interpretation of religious teaching, sexual harassment of girls, among others. Poverty, religious and cultural factors are major hindrances to gender equality in education.
Furthermore, strategies highlighted by this policy to deal with this issue include but are not limited to:
- Advocacy and sensitization
- Free and compulsory basic education
- Training and supply of female teachers in rural schools
- Incentives for girls to be sent to school
- Gender-sensitive education budgets
Furthermore, there should be more emphasis on training and supply of female teachers in rural schools. This is because representation matters. Naturally, children look up to their teachers. There are greater chances of having more girls in schools if there are more female teachers. It’s also important to improve remunerations and working conditions under which these teachers serve so as to attract the most qualified and dedicated.
- Olasunkami Olagunju (2018) the Evaluation of the National policy in gender in Basic Education in Nigeria. Global scientific journals, 6(8). 902-915,https://www.academia.edu/37464497/THE_EVALUATION_OF_THE_NATIONAL_POLICY_ON_GENDER_IN_BASIC_EDUCATION_IN_NIGERIA
- Okeke, E. (2008) Access in Nigerian Education. In B.G Worgu & E.I Eke (Eds) Access, Quality and cost in Nigerian Education pp 20-34.