The major causes of poverty are ‘‘Low Income, Low Assets, Lack of Opportunities and Social Exclusion”. Women are the most affected by these three (Journal of International Women’s Studies, 2010). This is probably why women remain the poorest in Nigeria, and even in Africa as a whole and globally account for 70% of the poor, despite making more than half the entire population (Moghadam, 2005).
Public primary schools in Nigeria are not equipped with the resources for quality education. Majority of the teachers are not qualified and have no pre-primary education teaching skill. As a result, children leaving pre-primary school to start primary education have poor reading foundation. As soon as they cross to higher primary classes, they do not know how to read. Some of them get frustrated and drop out of school. Most times, the girls are more affected by the drop out rates because already, they have been conditioned to believe that their primary goal in life is to build a home. So, there is literally no encouragement to continue education since they cannot pass exams as a result of inability to read. They drop out and are given out in marriage to become dependent on their husbands for the rest of their lives.
THE SOLUTION: Girls who can read are more likely to further their education and pursue career than girls who do not. Increased access of girls to Education, and in turn access to employment opportunity in the formal sector limits their vulnerability to violence from their partners. It also provides positive peace (SUSTAINABLE PEACE), as women play a central role in raising the society.
APPROACH: We started the project in Ogun state. We randomly selected 5 public schools in Ogun state (South Western region of Nigeria) and then handpicked 4 girls per school. The criteria for the selection were;
- Girls must be in upper primary classes
- Girls must be UNABLE to read a word, or must be SERIOUSLY STRUGGLING to read.
After the girls’ parents had given us the permission by signing out consent forms, everyday, after school hours at 2pm, we picked the girls up at their various schools to the venue of the reading classes. By 4pm, after the reading classes were over, we drove them back to their various destinations.
Within 5 weeks, we achieved our objective: Watch the weekly progress of the girls here: Progress Report on Literacy Project for Girls