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Patience Jonathan makes case for girl-child university education

First Lady, Mrs. Patience Jonathan has said that Nigerians must ensure that a significant percentage of the country’s young people, especially girls, acquire university education. “There is a popular saying that if you educate a man, you educate a person, but if you educate a woman, you educate a nation,” she said during a visit to the University of Lagos, UNILAG, last weekend.

“Parents must pay adequate attention to the education and welfare of our children, because education is the key to human capital development and the basis for national development. This is an area that Mr. President and I are very passionate about, because we were once teachers ourselves,” she added.

Mrs. Jonathan’s call for girl-child education is crucial because of the sorry state of girl-child access to education in the country, even at the basic level. Out of Nigeria’s 10.5 million out-of-school children – the highest in the world – six million are girls. 70.8 per cent of young women aged 20-29 in the North-West zone are unable to read or write.

Experts believe that due to the fact that these girls are deprived so early of an education (including the access to information and knowledge), they remain bereft of the purchasing power necessary for adequate diet, healthcare, skills, or even recourse to support in emergencies, all of which would enable them rise above abject poverty.

Her words: “The building of the 15-storey female hostel is a worthy course because it will reduce the number of those living outside the campus. Education is the key to human capital development, hence the quality of education will determine the type of leaders we will produce in the future. We must ensure that the girl-child acquires education, because when you educate a woman, you educate a whole nation. Education is the best we can give our nation. As you pass through the school, let the system also pass through you.”

On standard of education, she urged government to increase the quality of education to compete favourably with their counterparts globally. According to her, “with sincere commitment, we can bring back the good old days when teachers were respected.”

Mrs. Jonathan’s visit to UNILAG also highlighted other concerns in the tertiary education sector, one of which is the unavailability of campus accommodation in universities across the country to cater for majority of university students.

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