EFFECT OF GENDER DISCRIMINATION ON GIRL CHILD EDUCATION IN ABRAKA, ETHIOPE EAST LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF DELTA STATE
Background of the study
Education is an important foundation to improve the status of women and has been recognized as a potent and dynamic instrument for national development and social transformation. In every civilized society and especially in the African context, children are regarded as the pride of parents and the greatest value the society possesses. This is why children are mostly cherished and consciously protected from all forms of hazards and abuse. According to Obanya (2007) the girl-child educational attainment is low as records have shown that fewer girls go to school than boys. Offorma, (2009) noted that this is because the girl-children have not been so lucky to be cherished, protected and loved in Nigerian society due to certain traditional practices, stereotyping, cultural and religious beliefs which put them at the risk of abuse and neglect.
Gender inequality, discrimination and violence are anathema to human existence, healthy relationships and development. The issue of discrimination against the girl-child has remained an unresolved issue and a major concern in the academic discourse. Igube, (2004) and Asare (2009) noted that the general inferior economic, social and political status of the girl-child while recent studies are also showing the state of her existence from the formative-infancy stage through youth to the adult stage. More so, gender discrimination against the girl child education is contrary to fundamental human rights, equity, natural justice and good governance.
Section 42 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 provides for freedom from discrimination on the grounds of ethnic group, origin, gender, religion, circumstances of birth, disability or political opinion. Unfortunately, gender discrimination on girl child’s education permeates every facet and this comes in several forms Nigerian society including Abraka community. Abraka is one of the 25 Urhobo kingdoms located in Ethiope East Local Government Delta state, Nigeria. It has five different villages namely; Oria, Urhuagbesa, Umeghe, Oteri and Otorho- Avwraka. Meanwhile, Abraka is mostly known as a university town and has three campuses situated there. Abraka town is a favorite destination for domestic and international tourists.
Forms of gender discriminatory practices and violence against girl child’s education in Abraka geographical location includes; female genital mutilation, child marriage, ritualistic widowhood practices, nutritional taboos, cult prostitution, domestic violence and sexual freedom for husbands. Possible factors that predispose the situation are; traditional land tenure systems and patterns of inheritance, lack of access to credit, family preference for sons, lack of participation in public decision-making, discrimination in housing and employment, religious practices as well as incidence of rape, battery, trafficking in girl child and induced prostitution.
Fisho-Orideji, (2001) affirmed that the girl-child problem around the world has many dimensions but the root of all kinds of discriminations and bias against the girl child lies in the customs, traditions and typical mindset of the society which considers the girl child and women as inferior beings. Women and girls have been treated in the most inhuman ways from the inception of human civilization. Whereas, Igube, (2004) believes that the legacy of injustice against the girl child has continued in some parts of the world especially in African and Asian countries where there is frequent female feticide, female infanticide, sexual abuse, marginalization in terms of nutrition, health care and education challenge for the girl child. There would therefore be no gain saying that violence against women and bias against women in all spheres of life including; social, political, economic and religious sphere is a common norm in today’s world (Alabi & Alabi, 2012).
Guttman, (2009) noted that the effect on gender discrimination of the girl child’s education remains that, half of the total sexual assaults in the world are committed against girl children just as Fisho-Orideji, (2001) stated that, one of the leading causes of death among girl children is the complication from pregnancy and child bearing. Thus, improving basic education, especially female education, has a powerful influence on both mortality and fertility in Nigeria. This study therefore seeks to examine the effect of gender discrimination on girl-child education in Abraka Ethiope East LGA of Delta State
Statement of problem
Education is light and this light is indispensable especially in this fast changing world. Education is said to be the only way a third world country like Nigeria can become developed. Education is very essential in today’s society and the girl child must be educated in order to have a bright future. Part of the fundamental human rights of a child is the right to education. There are many factors that militate against the girl-child education.
In some Nigerian societies; they believe that it is an abomination to educate a female. Their beliefs are that women are supposed to be good cooks and mothers. Hence, education of the girl child is seen as a threat to male chauvinism. Some men believe that once the girl child is educated, she will be difficult to control and she could become loose, immoral and promiscuous. Consequently, the society in most cases sees the girl-child as a second fiddle; as a result, little or no effort is made towards her education especially when the parents are made to make a choice between educating the male-child and the girl-child.
Most of the common discrimination that appear to threaten the female gender include: The belief that men are stronger than women, the belief that education of women is a waste of resources, the belief that men are the bread winners, the belief that the male child will be a support for parents in the old age, the belief is that the gild child will eventually marry and ‘come under’ their husbands hence they are treated as inferior. Furthermore, to perpetuate the superiority of the male child over the girl-child, the girl-child is trained to put herself below her male siblings. In some homes, in order to make up for the financial inadequacy of the family, the girl-child is sent out to hawk in order to raise money for the family needs. In some cases, the girl-child may be given off for domestic labour in urban area for a regular income to the family (Ezeliora and Ezeokana, 2011).
These traditional practices/beliefs impose a lot of restrictions on the female gender education. It is regrettable that despite our progress as a society there is still an underestimation of the value of the girl-child. The psychological effect of gender discrimination and socio-cultural beliefs on the girl-child is the internalization of the low value accorded them by society. Hence, this study therefore seeks to ascertain the effects of gender discrimination on girl child education in Abraka, Ethiope East Local Government area of Delta State.
Purpose of the study
The purpose of this study is to examine the effect of gender discrimination on girl child education in Abraka, Ethiope East Local Government Area of Delta State. Specifically, the objectives include;
(i) To find out the level of awareness on gender discrimination with regards to the girl child education in Abraka, Ethiope East LGA.
(ii) To examine if there is any significant relationship between the societal beliefs and the girl child education in Abraka, Ethiope East LGA.
(iii) To examine the factors affecting the girl child’s participation in education in Abraka, Ethiope East LGA.
(iv) To evaluate the effect of gender discrimination of the girl child on societal development in Abraka, Ethiope East LGA.
For the purpose of this study, the following research questions have been generated;
i. What is the level of awareness on gender discrimination of the girl child education in Abraka, Ethiope East LGA?
ii. To what extent do societal beliefs affect the girl child’s education in Abraka, Ethiope East LGA?
iii. What are the factors affecting the girl child’s participation in education in Abraka, Ethiope East LGA?
iv. What effect does gender discrimination of the girl child have on the societal development in Abraka Ethiope East LGA?
Significance of the study
In view of the apparent danger of gender-role discrimination and socio-cultural beliefs that work against the female gender education there is great need to address the problem through the research outcome from this study. It will help to educate the public to shed off negative attitude against female gender education while helping the society to create and reinforce gender stereotypes and give way to a new mind-set and a change in attitude in both male and females.
The findings of the study would be helpful to the school management in assessing the enrolment of the girl child into the school, punctuality of the girl child and the monitoring of the girl child’s performance so as to encourage subsequent increase in the rate of the girl child’s attendance to school. Furthermore, the study would help parents, government, policy makers, international organizations and NGOs to boost female education.
Scope of the study
This study is focused on examining the effect of gender discrimination on girl child education in Abraka, Ethiope East Local Government Area of Delta State. The study is delimited to public and private primary school teachers in Abraka, Ethiope East LGA of Delta State. These categories of respondents were chosen because the primary school is the starting point of education and if a girl child does not acquire the basic education in this sector, she will not be able to proceed into the secondary school sector. The study will also be delimited to selected schools in Ethiope East Local Government Area. The use of questionnaire was used in gathering data from the respondents as well as frequency counts and percentages was used for analyzing the data generated.