Education is a basic human right and has been recognized as such since the 1948 adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. There is a positive correlation that exists between the enrolment of girls in primary school and the gross national product and increase of life expectancy.
Due to correlation, enrolment in schools represents the largest component of the investment in human capital in any society. Education bestows on women a disposition for a life-long acquisition of knowledge, values, attitude, competence and skills. Women in Nigeria as a whole have various challenges in order to obtain equal education compared to that of their males’ contemporaries. This, of course, was not limited to lack of funds, poverty, and discrimination but as a result of girls being constrained to unfair families workload within the house division of labour.
However, in the 1960s, when most African countries began to gain their political independence, there was still considerable gender disparity in girl’s education. Girls enrolment figure were very loud throughout the continent of Africa. It was this worrisome development that promoted a promulgation by the united nation declaration of human rights and UNESCO educational plans in 1961 when the right of girls education plans was announced in a conference held in Addis Ababa, by the body for Nigeria to ensure the achievements of 100% universal primary education right for girls by the year 1980.
Formally, the implementation in the 1970s, of the free and compulsory Universal Primary Education (UPE) was in line with the UN plan – but there were still reports of increase reductions of girl’s enrolment in school than their male counterpart. But the 1990 purposeful plans of action recorded a tremendous increase in females in school after, with a difference of 138,000 to that of 69,400 in 1998.
Also, during the Pan Africa Conference of March and April 1993, held at the Capital of Burkina Faso, three decades after the UN declaration of the 1960s. It was observed that Nigeria was still lagging behind other regions of the world in female access to education. It was noted that gender disparity has still existed in girl’s education and that there was a need to identify a girl’s full right participation in education.
Painstakingly, this gender disparity in schools did not go down well as the combined gross enrolment for primary, secondary and tertiary school for female was 57% compared to 71% for males in 2002, translating into fewer women in the certain economic field as well. The percentage follows; architects 24%, Jurists 25.4%, Lecturers 11.8%, Obstetricians and Gynecologists 8.4%, Pediatricians 33.3%, Media practitioners 18.3%. Many girls do not have access to adequate education past a certain age. Currently, the female adult literacy rate (ages 15 & above), stands at 59.4% in comparison to the male adult literacy rate of 74.4%. Its differences in lack of adequate education of a female child that has created this gap in literacy.
Besides, the Central Bank of Nigeria reports that the gender gap in the literacy of the rural level between boys and girls stands at 18.3 per cent in favour of boys overall. Also, within the age limits of 6 to 9 years of primary school ages show 3.9% in favour of boys. This indicates that there is a gender dimension to educational attainment and development in Nigeria.