Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, on Thursday called on all tiers of government in the country to encourage girl-child education by through the use of special incentives.
He also said that government needs to lay more emphasis on achieving qualitative education for all Nigerian children rather than concentrating on the quantity of students enrollment alone.
Saraki according to a statement by Chief Press Secretary, Sanni Onogu, in Abuja, stated this during an interactive and advocacy meeting with 70 school girls drawn from eight states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) who visited him as part of activities to mark this year’s International Day of the Girl Child. The states are Sokoto, Zamfara, Bauchi, Katsina, Kebbi, Niger, Bayelsa, Ebonyi and the FCT.
The students who were led by the Girls’ Education Manager of the United Nations Children’s Education Fund (UNICEF) in Nigeria, Teija Vallandingham, also posed questions bordering on education, welfare, safety and protection of the girl child in the country to the Senate President during the interactive session.
On her part, Vallandingham said the meeting of the girls with the Senate President became necessary to reassure Nigerian girls on the commitment of the highest level of legislature in ensuring that they count in the agenda of Government for achieving Sustainable Development Goals.
In his response, Saraki assured members of the delegation as well as girls across the country of the commitment of the National Assembly to employ appropriate laws in breaking the disparity that exists in terms of access to education between boys and girls.
Saraki said: “The assurance that this Senate is giving today is that we are very committed to ensuring that we truly break that disparity in the issue of gender education in the country.
“We strongly believe that in the past when you see a child without education, it has to be a girl. We have to move away from that. But the area that is most important is that we must spend enough resources on education. I remember when I was Governor of Kwara State, we spent quite some amount on achieving quality education. Quality education is different from quantitative education.
“We need to sensitize and seek collaboration with States. Education is also the responsibility of the State and Local Governments and the Federal Government must work with them to ensure adequate minimum standards across the States. I think we need to start doing that to ensure that most states are well funded and to ensure compliance on free education.
“I think also in most parts of the country, we must provide incentives because in certain parts of the country, very little is there to encourage girl’s education. We must make efforts to ensure that whether you are coming from Zamfara, Ebonyi, or Lagos, it is the same kind of efforts that is done to ensure equal opportunity for every child,” he said.
He added that the Senate through the Gender and Equal Opportunities Bill seeks among others to make sure that the girl child has equal opportunity with their male counterparts to get education.