UNICEF Nigeria has urged states in the South East, South South and South West to key into the Girls Education Programme (GEP-3) to enable the country to achieve the
Sustainable Development Goal (SDG-4) in 2030.
The UNICEF Senior Education Specialist, Mr Michael Banda, made the call at a two-day National Dissemination Meeting in Enugu on Thursday.
He said the objective of the meeting was to showcase GEP-3 interventions that have worked for common problems and present strong case for southern states’ buy-in.
He added that the meeting was also to share key findings of SDG-4, evaluations in Nigeria, demonstrating implications of inactions, and galvanising states’ response to identified bottlenecks in reaching SDG-4 by 2030.
The meeting has the theme: “scaling and replicating best practices towards achieving the sustainable development goals-4 for Nigeria by 2030.”
According to him, GEP-3 achieved tremendous results with the active support of stakeholders in the six programme states: Bauchi, Katsina, Sokoto, Zamfara, Niger and Kano.
Banda said that before the introduction of the programe in 2012, there were several factors impeding girl-child education in the Northern Nigeria.
“The school environment was not conducive for the girl child to go to school.
“Socio-cultural practices and religious inclinations, among others, made it difficult for girls to go to school, ” he said.
The specialist, however, aid that a recent national population survey indicated remarkable improvement in literacy rate among young women aged 15-24 years in the six pilot states.
He added that there was also a reduction in early marriages, adolscent pregnancy and child bearing in the focal states.
He commended the focal states for embracing the Cash Transfer model which was part of the implementation of the GEP-3 programme.
He urged states in the southern part of the country to key into the programme as the country gears toward reaching the SDG-4 in 2030.
He, however, condenmed low budgetary allocation to the education sector by both the federal and state governments and called for more.
The representative of Federal Ministry of Education, Mr Abel Akhere, said the present administration is poised to increase allocation to the education sector.
Akhere, who is the Deputy Director, Senior Secondary School Department, commended UNICEF Nigeria for achievement of GEP-3 in some Northern states and urged states in the South to key-in.
The UNICEF Chief of Enugu Field Office, Dr Juliet Chiluwe, described the GEP-3 as a huge success in the north and advised the south to embrace the programme.
Chiluwe called on South East governments to look inwards by keying into such programmes as GEP -3 to uplift the living standard of the people.
Representatives of many states from the South East, South South attended the meeting.