Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, has revealed that the plan and purpose of the Federal Government is to ensure that no Nigerian child is denied access to basic education.
Prof. Osinbajo stated this at the National Dialogue Forum on the Girl-Child in Nigeria, themed “Towards A Girl-Friendly Nigeria” organized by the Women Arise for Change Initiative in collaboration with the African Child Policy Forum, Ethiopia.
Highlighting the efforts of the Buhari administration in the area of improving access to education for the girl child in Nigeria, the VP stated that the Federal Government has “committed in word and deed to education so as to ensure that no child is denied access to free basic education.”
“We believe that free and compulsory education of girls is game-changing in many respects, as it has been empirically shown to positively impact age of marriage, and even maternal and infant mortality,” he said.
The VP added, “In 2020 the Federal Executive Council approved a World Bank credit facility in the sum of $500 million to finance the Adolescent Girls Initiative for Learning and Empowerment Project, to improve secondary education opportunities among girls in targeted areas of participating States, which are Borno, Ekiti, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi and Plateau.
“The project is aimed at creating safe and accessible learning spaces, advancing an enabling environment for girls, and strengthening the institutional capacity of the Federal and State governments to support girls’ education and empowerment.”
According to the Vice President, the project, which targets girls between the ages of 10 to 20 years with a strong focus on disadvantaged adolescent girls, has so far benefitted over 6 million girls and boys.
Prof Osinbajo explained that the Buhari administration will continue to put the needs of the girl-child in Nigeria at the forefront of laws, policies and practices to ensure their safety, education and health.
Prof. Osinbajo also urged State Governments to be more proactive in addressing issues related to the girl-child.
“While the Federal Government must remain focused and committed to advancing effective approaches to keeping girls safe, most of the efforts will occur at the State and local government levels.
“Gender-responsive measures that will transform education systems and address the barriers inhibiting girl child education must be introduced in States. And we are committed to ensuring that these initiatives happen,” the VP assured.
The Vice President commended Dr Joe Okei-Odumakin and the Women Arise for Change Initiative team for being at the forefront of ending all forms of discrimination and violence against women and girls in Nigeria.
“We must continue to focus on the deep, systemic dysfunction of cultures and social norms that not only enable discriminatory actions against the girl-child, but also allow it to fester,” the VP said.
He further urged that the National Dialogue Forum should consider all of the critical issues related to the development of the girl child in Nigeria.
Present at the event were the Women Affairs Minister Dame Pauline Tallen, Dr. Okei-Odumakin and Dr. Joan Nyanyuki, Executive Director of African Child Policy Forum, representatives of diplomatic missions and development partners.