For a developing country like Nigeria, education of the girl-child is an effective way to combat poverty and embrace a sustainable future. However, the country has thousands of girls who have dropped out of schools due to unwanted pregnancy, thereby endangering their future. According to the federal government, 15 percent of Nigerian girls, particularly is rural areas, dropped out of school in 2020. One out of five teenage girls aged 15-19 in the country are either pregnant with their first child or mothers already.
According to a non-profit fact checking organisation, Africa Check, while Bauchi, in North-east Nigeria, has 41 percent of adolescent women who are already into childbearing, Lagos State 1 percent of adolescent women in this category. Experts have asserted that the reasons for these regional gaps in the rate of early child pregnancy are poor education and high level of poverty. The National MPI 2022 affirmed that 40.1 percent of Nigerians are poor in regards to the 2018/19 national monetary poverty line, while 63 percent suffer multidimensional poverty.
Social media influence encourages this social ill.
There is a higher rate of multidimensional poverty in rural areas as about 70 percent are poor, in comparison to urban areas where about 40 percent are poor. The National MPI states that 67.5 percent of children between the ages of 0-17 are multi-dimensionally poor, while 51 percent of all poor people in the country are children. An educationist, Bola Ogundele, urged the government to ensure provision of free education at primary and secondary levels and establishment of skill acquisition centres. This is to ensure that when a girl-child is unable to attend a higher institution, she resorts to acquire a skill.
Teenage pregnancy, according to Ogundele, is one of the social ills prevalent in the society today, and it is majorly caused by social media influence. Teenagers want to be famous without possessing a skill or a career. He added that some have even been discovered to make money from exposure of their private parts. He lamented that education in Nigeria is losing its future, stating that white collar jobs are no longer available for graduates, causing unemployment and encouraging youths to believe that education is a scam.
Adolescent mothers are vulnerable to serious health conditions.
Speaking on this issue, Dideolu Adekogbe who is a lead consultant at Flourish-Gate Global Consult and Bring Back Primary 6 Movement said that the government needs to take action towards the creation of enabling environments for parents through provision of job opportunities to reduce the rate of early pregnancy and the resultant school dropout. She also called for practical engagement of students in activities that involve creative learning and thinking to encourage them and boost their interest to study and learn more.
Also, early childbearing have social consequences for girls which include stigmatisation, reduced status in the home and community, forced early marriage, and violence and rejection by family members and peers. Adolescent girls also have vulnerability to the various health consequences of pregnancy and delivery as their bodies are not physically mature enough to bear a child. Some of the serous health conditions they are likely to encounter during this phase include obstetric fistula, puerperal endometriosis, eclampsia and systemic infections.
It is necessary to enact laws that forbid underage sex & early marriage.
To curb the menace, a lecturer at Covenant University, Busayo Aderounmu, advised parents to dedicate more time to teaching their boys and girls sex education. Bamidele Okuwoga, a legal practitioner, stressed that the government should enact laws that forbid early marriage, and ensures free and mandatory education up to secondary level. A student of the University of Lagos, Olatunde Adebayo, also stated that laws should be implemented against underage sex. Currently, at the global level, Nigeria ranks sixth in countries with teenage pregnancy.
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