This year’s UN international Day of the Girl Child held on 11 October 2013 encouraged smart and creative use of technology, policies, partnerships and most essentially, the engagement of young people overcoming barriers to girls’ learning and achievement reports say. Today, young female students in Zinder, Niger have a chance to continue with their education likely to see them venture into tech-related fields as they end teenage marriages and pregnancies.
In this initiative, reports say that some 60 students have now received support by the UNISEF with scholarships to continue their studies. The funds cater for school facilities, tutoring services, basics like soap, as well as expenses of the girl’s host families in rural areas.
Yet, in Niger, a third of girls are married off before age 15 with only 16 per cent attending high school and only half completing school. Supporting the girls past primary school matters because it ensures that they complete education and are protected from early marriages and pregnancies, notes a UNICEF report.
Some directors in schools indicated that there were no girls in schools two years ago, but the number has steadily been increasing thanks to the UNICEF initiative that has seen the number at a school in Yaouri rise from three girls in 2012 to 16 girls to date. Moreover, UNICEF selected some 500 girls from remote regions of Maradi and Zinder for the program, say reports. They were selected based on the distance girls took to reach school and in terms of social insecurity and achievement.
While it is noted that a number of girls would like to venture into nursing and technology related fields, the scholarship program is expected to see the number of students double in schools. However, there are a few requirements to ensure the best learning environment for Nafi Karfi among other schools. School books for instance are photocopied texts while students lack chairs and good sanitation.
In all, the zeal of the girls eager to learn through scholarships in the community ensures that girls have access to education that could save them from early marriages.
Photo: courtesy of UN