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Four Million Nigerian Girls Out of School, Says Minister

Published on Saturday 16th January 2010 Four Million Nigerian Girls Out of School, Says Minister

Over four million girls between the ages of 6 and 11 do not have access to primary education in Nigeria, a joint UNESCO-UNICEF report has said.

Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development Hajia Salamatu Sulieman disclosed this yesterday while on advocacy visit to Borno State.

She described illiteracy as catastrophic for any child, especially the girl child, saying it exposes them to poverty, ignorance, maternal mortality, hunger, violence, abuse, exploitation, trafficking, HIV/AIDS and other diseases.

"As we all know, education is a basic human right, vital to personal and social development and well being. Therefore, all children including the girl child deserve quality education. Unfortunately, the child is often marginalized and her prospects are sacrificed when it comes to sending children to school.

"We see them often enough on the streets and at the markets hawking food and various wares. Although Nigeria has made steady progress in primary school enrolment, girls still account for more than half of the nation's out of school children", she said.

The minister said progress in girls' enrolment, retention and completion would have to be twice as rapid as it is now, if Nigeria is to meet the Millennium Development Goal of achieving gender parity in education by 2015 including the attainment of universal primary education.

She said she was in the state to among other things seek the passage of the Child Rights Bill, women's increased participation in politics and decision making, girl child education, domestication and implementation of the UN convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women, improving maternal health and increased budgetary allocation for women, children and other socially disadvantaged groups.

She also said Nigerian women suffer from preventable premature death while giving birth because of inadequate health facilities, non-incentives for health personnel, ignorance and cultural taboos among others. According to her, Nigeria has one of the highest maternal mortality rates with high prevalence in the rural areas.

"Infant mortality is also high as it is estimated to be 105 per 1000 live births with under five mortality rate at 178 per 1000." She added.

Hajia Salamatu the Federal Government recently approved the purchase of 49 ambulances for distribution to primary health care centres in selected states in its effort to reduce maternal health, particularly in the rural areas.

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