Deputy Minister of Education Madalitso Kambauwa-Wirima has called for gender-equitable education systems on the African continent to contribute to a reduction in school-related gender-based violence and harmful practices.
She made the plea yesterday at a high-level international meeting in Abuja, Nigeria organised by the Mallpai Foundation to celebrate the 2021 Literacy Day.
In a speech made available to Malawi News Agency, Wirima called on African governments to take concrete steps to ensure that challenges hindering girls’ access to education are solved.
She said child marriage and female genital mutilation are some of issues which a gender-equitable education system can deal with to help keep both girls and boys in school and build prosperity for all countries.
Said Wirima: “Gender-equitable education systems empower girls and boys and promote the development of life skills like self-management, communication, negotiation and critical thinking that young people need to succeed. They close skills gaps that perpetuate pay gaps, and build prosperity.”
According to Unicef, globally, 129 million girls are out of school, including 32 million of primary school age, 30 million of lower-secondary school age, and 67 million of upper-secondary school age.
In countries affected by conflict, girls are more than twice more likely to drop out of school than girls living in non-affected countries.
Only 49 percent of countries in Africa have achieved gender parity in primary education.
In a statement, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari told the meeting that his government has taken steps to enforce free and compulsory basic education for the first nine years of schooling.
The statement reads in part: “We are also implementing social investment and school-feeding programmes which have dramatically increased school enrollment, retention and higher transition rates from primary school to secondary and tertiary levels.
“Our target is to provide the youth of our country with life-long skills and knowledge and to move over 100 million Nigerians out of poverty by 2030.” The two-day meeting brought together various speakers, including Malawi’s former first lady Callista Mutharika, Nigerian Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo and Nigerian government senior officials.