Girl power and Nigeria’s future

Rafatu Salami, Abuja


Across Nigeria, Senior Secondary school (High School) Class of 2019 have all been graduating future leaders and strikingly many more girls are topping their classes. Increasingly, the prospects for the girl child in Nigeria is getting brighter, though weighed against the scale there is still a long way to go, but it is a case of one girl and unleashing her potentials to effect change In Nigeria.

Figures from the West African Examination Council the body that conducts examinations for all Grade 12 students had shown that “4,795 more female candidates did better than boys in the 2019 West African Senior School Certificate Examination, WASSCE”, though  “more boys (822,098) sat for the examination than girls who were 768,075.”

Olu Adenipekun, the Head of National Office (HNO), had announced “a total of 64.12 per cent (1,020,519) of the 1,590,173 candidates that wrote the 2019 WASSCE made credits in five subjects, including English and Mathematics. While 50.23 per cent of this 1,020,519 were girls, 49.77 per cent were boys.”

Two of those girls graduated from Epitome Model Islamic College, not only making credits

Habiba Illyasu

in five subjects including English and mathematics, they were outstanding, earning the schools outstanding award and cash prizes: Habiba Illyasu  has a distinction in Mathematics, scored 296 in JAMB and wants to be an engineer, while the future Economist Khadija Musa will be going into the university with 5 straight As.

Habiba told Voice of Nigeria that she “can achieve anything she wants to achieve”  adding “I have heard people say women cannot be engineers, but I know that there a few women and I don’t think being a girl can stop me from achieving anything”.

Khàdija who wants to be an economist says she has never felt limited by her gender. “There are both boys and girls in my class and I honestly don’t feel any different. It’s about what you have in your head. What you can achieve, what you can do not your gender. I want to be an economist and I know I can achieve it”.

Khadija Musa

Interestingly both girls are from the northern part of Nigeria, Kano and Borno states, where education of the girl child is below national average, where girl child marriages  are rife and where terrorism has effected enrolment in school.

Both Kano and Borno are ranked 24th and 25th on the WAEC performance chart across 37 states. The girls helped Nasarawa state where they wrote the exam, to be 23rd beating their home states.

What these mean is that nurture is more important in the education of the girl child, regardless of where she is from, she can be the torch-bearer. They also will be potential icons for those who are against the education of Muslim girls, who through their warped religious interpretation, want to deny Muslim girls the right to Western education.

The girls got awards for excellence and cash prizes for being outstanding.

Cross section of students at the graduation ceremony