Gender Stereotypes and Girl-Child Education in Nigeria

Ofoha, Dorothy
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In Nigeria, as in most African countries, girls’ school attendance is low, as records have shown that fewer girls go to school than boys. Despite the provisions of the Universal Basic Education Act and the Child Rights Act aimed at ensuring the right to education for all children, the girl-child continues to lag behind in the education system. Research shows majority of them drop out for various reasons before completion of basic education. Consequently, they cannot raise their socio-economic standard and therefore cannot contribute to nation building. Why has the situation persisted despite efforts by governments, international organizations and NGOs to boost female education over the years? It appears the real issues have not been appropriately addressed. One area that seems to have not been well explored is the issue of gender stereotypes. This paper therefore examines how stereotypic beliefs against female gender can affect the girls-child’s attitude toward education and educational aspirations. It considers attitude as significant because attitudes determine behaviour, which in turn combine to affect girls’ access to education. Gender stereotypes in the paper refer to socio-cultural beliefs and practices, which tend to limit the girl-child’s rights to education. The paper starts with a review of gender role development in African society. It discusses the patriarchal nature of African society and the Nigerian perceptions regarding the girl-child. It reviews some examples of commonly held stereotypic beliefs that pose threat to female gender and presents concern on the plight of the African girl-child who is caught up in the struggle for self-determination and the patriarchal system, which seems to limit her rights and expectations of herself. The paper argues that such a system increases the burden of the developmental tasks for the girl-child thereby causing a setback to her development. A nation that endangers the development of a critical segment of its own population puts itself at risk. The paper further argues that until we address the challenge of gender stereotyping and the impact it imposes on the girl-child, the mere provision of laws, conventions, charters, as the panacea, though laudable, remains futile. To this end, the paper considers how ODL can be used as a strategy to counteract the impact of gender stereotypes and socio-cultural beliefs that pose threat to female gender thereby increasing girls’ access to education. // Paper ID: 19

Women and Girls' Education,Gender,Open and Distance Learning (ODL),Cultural Expectations,Social Inclusion