BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Education is the right of every girl everywhere in the world and also the key to transforming both the life of girl and the life of her immediate community. Girls without education are denied the opportunity to develop their full potential and to play a productive and equal role in their families, their societies, their country and their world at large. One of the most essential tools available to empower women within the family,society and the world at large is education. In addition, educating girls has huge benefits. Literate and educated women are less likely to die in childbirth; more likely to have smaller, healthier and better educated families; and better able to protect their families and themselves from HIV/AIDS, other sexually transmitted diseases, trafficking and other forms of violence (Unicef 2009). Despite all these facts in Nigeria girls, continue to be locked out of school and locked into inequality due to traditional beliefs and practice of the parents. The cultural and societal obstacles that girls face in Nigeria are huge. Other barriers to quality girl child Education include poverty, poor quality education, child labor, child trafficking, HIV/AIDS, remote geographic location, inadequate infrastructure, discrimination, mother’s lack of education civil inflict, natural disasters, and violence. United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan (2005) has clearly identified girl’s education as an urgent development priority for the entire UN system where he is reported to have said that: “If we are to succeed in our efforts to build a healthier, more peaceful and happy world, classrooms must be full of girls as well as boys. By educating girls, we will help raise economic productivity and reduce both maternal and infant mortality. By educating girls, we will improve nutrition, promote health, and fight HIV/AIDS. By educating girls, we will trigger a transformation of society as a whole—social, economic and political.” (Video message to the Conference on Gender Parity in Education, Washington, D.C., 2 March 2005) The greatest enemy and greatest evil which keep people in darkness, bound to their traditions and superstitions is illiteracy; It also makes people resistant to change and new ideas and isolated from progress, thus unaware and incapable of meeting the demands of their changing environment and ever progressing world (Nasution in Omolewa1985). Today, girl-child education is a matter of concern for nations in the world. Girl-children are discriminated against thereby making it difficult for them to exercise their rights; they are victims of various traditional and cultural practices, they suffer degradation, they are objects of poverty, their faces are only to be seen but their voices not to be heard, they are seen as being sub-servient to their male counterparts; they are the inferior set, their place is in the kitchen. A number of negative thoughts and actions are expressed on the girl-child. To set the girl-child free from all these negative hold, there is need for her sound education. Giving her education will give her sound mind to reason, to liberate her from poverty, and develop her as well as the nation in which she lives. With education, the girl child can become a self-sufficient adult who has more decision and control over her life. Jatau in Esomonu (1999) believes that the burden of nation building rests much on women.
This will start from the education of the girl-child. The importance of educating the girl-child is further brought to the fore by Abacha (1997) while stating his view to support the fact that development has to be participatory and sustainable. He believed that “Progress is only feasible if we create a Nigeria made up of a united people with a united purpose… our nation needs men and women who are bold, and imaginative, dedicated and committed, people who put honor, service and patriotism above everything else. These men and women are not only needed in politics, they are also needed in business, in our traditional institutions, youth organizations, in academics and other professions”. The above statement indicated that, society should stop looking down on women and they should be seen as first-class citizen and not rated as second-class citizens. Through education the girl-child (who transforms later into a woman) will be empowered to be strong and resourceful in such a way that she is able to contribute maximally to the sustenance and development of the society in which she lives. According to Alkali (2000) cited in Adedokun & Olufunke M. (2010) if all limiting barriers against women are removed, “women can lead, lead to the battle, and if necessary fight for her society and win for her people”. Educating a girl child therefore will bring about self-awareness, increased self assertiveness in the society, raising the consciousness of women to encourage their participation in national development (Awe 1992, cited in Adedokun & Olufunke M. 2010). Paying particular and close attention is therefore important, to the education of the girl-child. Finding the right solution to the issue of girl-child education will not only move the girl-child forward but pushes the nation to a greater height. Considering the virtues embedded in the issue of girl child education, the issue should be rated very high.
STATEMENT OF THE GENERAL PROBLEM
In spite of the National and International affirmations on improving the lot of women in human society there still exist tenacious harmful cultural practices, which are yet to be done away with particularly as they adversely affect the health of the girl-child. Till date high premium is still placed on the males while females are regarded as a household property, which can be used and manipulated at will For example, the traditional bride price confers a property identify on a woman and also awards the husband with the implicit ownership of the wife (Obianyo, 2000). As it is typical of most patriarchal societies throughout the world, Nigeria inclusive; girls are usually expected to be submissive, obedient and respectful to their husbands no matter how educated they may appear to be. Women were never heard but only seen even on issues concerning their sexuality and reproductive rights. Hence women face complex health issues particularly those arising from pregnancy. Information from World Fertility Survey, (1999) revealed that in countries like Nigeria, gender-based disparity in health care received are largely the result of the girl-child being undervalued by their family. The girl child’s vulnerability to maltreatment in diverse forms are deeply rooted in the culture and traditions of their communities. Kamara (1991) observed that culturally prescribed traditions such as female-female marriage and male health providers not attending to pregnant mothers may have serious health consequences on women. Unfortunately, many of these harmful practices still prevail in some societies. For example HCPs like widowhood rites is prevalent 6 in six geopolitical zones in Nigeria (Akumadu, 2000). For example in the year 2003, a widow from Okwuato Ibeku in Aboh Mbaise LGA was alleged to have been stripped of everything she had including her children; by her in-laws (Daily Sun, October 2003).
AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The major objective of the study is to examine the effect of traditional practices on the academic achievement of a girl child in Nigeria. Other specific objectives of the study include;
H0: There is no effect of traditional practices on the academic achievement of a girl child in Nigeria.
H1: There is an effect of traditional practices on the academic achievement of a girl child in Nigeria.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The study would be of immense importance towards the educational development of the girl child as it would highlight the effect of traditional/cultural practices on the educational achievement of the girl child with the sole aim of enhancing educational development of women in Nigeria. The study would also benefit students, researchers and scholars who are interested in developing further studies based on the subject matter.
SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The study is restricted to the effect of traditional practices on the academic achievement of a girl child in Nigeria.
LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
Financial constraint: Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview)
Time constraint: The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.