Female education in Africa has been a significant challenge, where many girls are denied opportunities to enroll in schools or higher education. Many researchers agree that female children have lower opportunities for accessing education. UNESCO statistics show that Africa has approximately 130 million girls aged between 6-17 years who lack access to educational facilities. Disadvantaged girls in the aspect that they come from low-income families, live in remote areas, disabled, or are part of a minority group are at a higher risk of failing to complete their education.
For instance, poverty-stricken regions in North West Nigeria contribute to 4% of uneducated girls compared to the southeast areas, where 99% have access to education. Another factor that limits girl-child education, especially enrollment to secondary schools, is cultural practices. For instance, Kenya introduced free primary education and subsidized secondary education, but when girls reach the age of enrolling in secondary education, they are limited by practices like early marriages and need for labor at home. The believes that a girl should be helping at home and doing kitchen work still holds since it acts as a preparation for marriage. Such barriers hinder girl-child enrollment to secondary schools.
The need for equal access to education for girls encourages their enrollment to secondary schools. More educated girls contribute to the economy better since they earn higher salaries, bear fewer children, get married at a later age, are healthier, and engage in formal labor market activities. Such benefits improve the country’s economy by improving the living standards of households and alleviating poverty.
There are different ways in which nations in Africa can encourage the enrollment of girls to the secondary education program. One is government legislation policies that ensure equal opportunities for girl’s enrollment to secondary schools upon completion of their primary education. The policies will reduce discrimination due to any disparities in gender, family’s level of income, the remoteness of a region, and cultural practices. Any form of non-compliance to the policies should be punishable by law. Also, parents need to value girl-child education and inhibit practices like early marriages or girls staying at home to assist with chores.
Another way to encourage girl-child education is by creating awareness of the benefits of girl-child education. People will value girl-child education if they understand the significance of enrolling them for secondary and higher education. Some communities continue with some cultural practices because they lack awareness of the evolving world and the need for inclusion of female children in education programs. Educating and raising awareness of such people will lead to the extinction of cultural barriers of female education. Finally, all materials and books used for learning should eliminate any form of gender bias or preferably not used in classrooms. Schools should incorporate gender-based approach in their classrooms to encourage and motivate girls to seek education. For instance, Somalia trained teachers on a gender-based approach in classrooms and included it in the school curriculum and has significantly increased the girl’s demand for education, where school enrolment increased by 28%. Therefore, there is a need to promote and encourage enrollment of secondary education in girls to reap all the associated benefits.
A statistical presentation of the number of female students Compared to male students in school at Sokoto, northern state in Nigeria as recorded by the Universal Basic Education Commission in 2011/2012.