By Ebunoluwa Sessou
Whilst it is pertinent to train girl children against child marriage, stakeholders in the education sector have identified puberty as one of the stages that pose a danger to the girl child.
Speaking during the community seminar on child marriage organized by Bella Foundation for Child and sponsored by EVOCA Foundation and Nommontu Foundation in partnership with Girls Not Bride-(Global Partnership to End Child Marriage), Rise Up Together and Child Protection Network Maternal Care, in Ojo area of Lagos state, the Principal, Blessing Demonstration College Mrs Violet Akinyemi, hinted that one of the challenges the girl child encounters is during her puberty stage.
According to her, “Some of the girls are confused because, at their puberty stage, they are attracted to the male gender especially when they hear the word, “I love you.
Akinyemi however noted that continuous teaching and correction would set the girl child on the right path.
In his contribution, the Director of Blessing Demonstration College, Pastor Ifejube Edward, charged every girl child with the need to face her studies. “Child marriage should be offensive to the girl child because it will ruin her future. If she focuses on her studies, the future will be bright. That is when she would be sufficient in maturity. If she is not mature, then, it will be difficult for her to know who she would be married to. Engaging in child marriage is tantamount to slavery.
“Once you are mature, it is easy to contribute to the progress of your marriage. There is a negative effect posed on an individual who has not reached a marriageable age, the effect is also felt in the community and the nation at large.
One of the students, Oladapo Priscilla, SS 1, in her opinion said, “Child marriage could be reduced to its barest minimum when every stakeholder takes the responsibility of talking to the girl child on child marriage and its consequences. Ensure that adequate education is given to the girl child”, she said.
According to her, adequate education would reduce mental poverty and ignorance in the community. “Most girls fall into child marriage either because of poverty or ignorance. But, if they are able to acquire the necessary knowledge, they could use that as a weapon to safeguard themselves. They will also serve as role models in society”, she added.
The facilitator, Odonghanrd Dorinda, Gender Advocate (Ending Child Marriage Project in Nigeria), Girls Not Brides and Coalition of Civil Society Organisation of Nigeria sponsored by UNICEF lamented that, Nigeria is one of the countries with the highest rate of child marriage.
“Child marriage is a violation of the girl’s rights. It takes the community, the elders, and traditional leaders to rise up to the case. There is a need to be careful when handling child marriage in the Northern part of Nigeria.
In her reaction, Founder, Bella Foundation for Child and Maternal Care, Bella Akhagba said, the percentage of children in Nigeria is alarming hence the need to urgently address the trend.
According to her, “The project which is 12 months with possible extension is currently being carried out in four secondary schools in Ojo Local Government communities.
“We have organized seminars on Child marriage with the theme ‘Eliminating Child Marriage Through Educational Programs’ for adolescent girls aged 9-17 years in schools in Ojo area of Lagos state.
“The project was aimed to inform and equip adolescent girls with the knowledge and skills to be able to advocate against child marriage in their various communities. When girls are informed it will help to change attitudes and behaviour which will eventually eradicate it in the near future.
“We hope to scale up the project to other communities and local government with a high prevalence of child marriage in Lagos state when we have the funds”, she said.