UNICEF adopts new strategy to retain girls in schools

Temitope Mustapha, Abuja

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A silent revolution is presently taking place in the rural and urban communities of Zamfara State with the UNICEF Education initiative of ‘He for She’, using boys and men to support girls education in the State.

The concept is part of strategies used by the UN agency to achieve results from its Girls for Girls G4G, education program launched in August 2017 in Zamfara, Katsina and Bauchi States.

The initiative according to UNICEF Education Expert, Azuka Menkiti, is about building solidarity around girls education using men and boys.

Menkiti stated during a media dialogue in Gusua, Zamfara State Capital, that survey have shown that there is the need to use boys and men to give support to girls to remain in schools in the Northern part of Nigeria.

She stressed that UNICEF adopted this strategy to ensure that all the sources of violence in schools against girls are mitigated.

“A lot of survey have shown that we need to actually talk to the boys and the men to give their supports because these are fathers of these girls who takes final decision on who goes to school and who remains in school. These are classmates of these girls in school. So we are building a team of boys who will grow up with positive masculinity, those who will appreciate themselves as men who are able to relate with girls and women better and provide all sorts of support,” she said.

Menkiti also made known that the UNICEF is presently working with male teachers and traditional leaders who are engaged to consider social norms that affect the girls in schools as well as issues that inhibits the girls from moving on to higher levels in education.

We are getting them to begin to appreciate their roles as fathers and brothers to be able to give needed support because these girls are their sisters and their daughters,” she added.

A major implementor of Girls for Girls UNICEF initiative in Zamfara State and an Executive Director of  Life helpers organisation (a non-governmental agency), Tayo Fatinikun said the program is now helping the girls develop inner capacities to withstand certain challenges that culture and society poses at them.

Through the ‘He for She’ concept, we have recorded greater awareness among fathers and most of them now know the importance of girl child education.”

“Basically the Girls for Girls education program was designed to bridge gaps that became so visible in girl child education. It provides peer to peer opportunity for girls and it enhances their capacity to grow within cultural diversities they found themselves,” he added.

Program officer of G4G in Bauchi State, Tawakalitu Salaudeen, said that the program is been implemented in 6 Local government Areas of the State with enrolment of 1,814 girls in the program.

She also said 102 boys were enrolled for ‘He for She’ concept in 6 Local government Areas of Bauchi State.

The Girls for Girls UNICEF education program has reached out to 15000 girls in the three states and these girls have been trained in life skills.

The G4G UNICEF program is sponsored by the UKaid and it is a mentoring program with a goal of bringing 1 million girls to school, to contribute to the retention goal of Girls education project phase 3.

OMOLAYO.A