APPLICATION OF EARLY MARRIAGE ON WOMEN EDUCATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Background to the Study
In the world all over, marriage is an institution which calls for a moment of celebration and a milestone in the life of the adult. In practice, marriage is not restricted to the adult; the girl-child may be forced into early marriage without recourse to neither her consent nor the consequences of such forced union. The impositions of a marriage partner upon a child means that the childhood is lost and never regained (UNICEF, 2001). When children are hurried through childhood, and rushed into taking on adult tasks (such as marriage at a very early age, the effects can be profound and long-lasting. Bayisenge (2010) noted that young girls are robbed of their youth and required to take on roles for which they are not psychologically or physically prepared. Many have no choice about the timing of marriage or their partner. Some are coerced into marriage, while others are too young to make an informed decision. Premature marriage deprives them of the opportunity for personal development as well as their right to full reproductive health, well being and participation in Civic life.
It is imperative to say that education plays a particularly important role as a foundation for girls' development towards adult life. Education is a human right that should be given to all human beings. There are lots of international human right instruments that provide for education as a fundamental human right which include the universal declaration of human right (1948), international convention on economic, social and cultural right (1960) etc. The relationship between education and development is well established such that education is a lay index of development. Research has also shown that schooling improves productivity, health and reduces negative features of life such as child labour. This is why there has been a lot of emphasis particularly in recent times for all citizens to have access to basic education. It has however been established by researchers that improving female education is crucial for national development. Education is a basic human right and has been recognized as such since the 1948 adoption of the universal declaration of human rights. Since then, numerous human rights treaties have reaffirmed these rights and have supported entitlement to free compulsory primary education for all children. In 1990 for example, the education for all (EFA) communication was launched to ensure that by 2015, all children particularly girls, those in difficult circumstances and those belonging to ethnic minorities have access to and complete free and compulsory primary education of good quality.
According to UNESCO report, about 90 million children are not in school and majority of them are children. Most girls do not have access to education despite the fact that it is their rights. The girl-child is often saddled with responsibilities, which may make her not to have access to quality education. 2007 UNESCO and UNICEF report addressed the issue of education from a rights-based approach. Three interrelated rights were specified and must be addressed in concert in order to provide education for all. The three interrelated rights are:
a. The right to access to education. That is, education must be available for, accessible to, and inclusive of all children.
b. The right to quality education: Education needs to be child-centred, relevant and embrace a broad curriculum and be appropriately resourced and monitored.
c. The right to respect within the learning environment: Education must be provided in a way that is consistent with human rights, equal for culture, religion and language and free from all forms of violence.
It is true that many governments make provision for the education of their citizens but the provisions most of the time do not take into cognizance the peculiarities of the girl. In that case, the girl-child may not have access to education, which is a fundamental human right. Research has shown that millions of girls do not have access to schools despite the concerted efforts to push the cause forward.
Okeke, Nzewi and Njoku (2008) identify child labour, poverty and lack of sponsorship, quest for wealth, bereavement, truancy, broken home, engagement of children and house helps as factors or the clog in the wheel of girl's access to education. The right to education, which is a fundamental human right, is frequently denied to girls in some African countries. The then United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, stated that in Africa, when families have to make a choice due to limited resources of either a girl or a boy child, it is always the boy that is chosen to attend school. In Africa, many girls are prevented from getting the education entitled to them because families often send their daughters out to work at a young age so that they can get the additional income they may need to exist beyond subsistence level and finance the education of sons.
Abdulahi in Maduagwu and Mohammed (2006) notes that the importance of education in the life of an individual cannot be over emphasized. Central to the most basic problems facing the girl-child is her access to qualitative education. This is because without education, the realization of all other rights e.g socioeconomic and political rights becomes impossible. In the typical Nigerian setting, the education of the girl-child has not received serious attention. The general apathy in this regard especially among parents has to do with the materialistic concept of education, that is, the belief that the girl-child will eventually marry and leave the family with whatever material benefits derivable from her education to her husband's home. They would rather prefer to invest in the education of the male child who is expected to marry in the family name (Adewale, 1997). Traditionally, the role of women has been that of home maintenance and rearing of children. Right from childhood, the girl-child is prepared and trained with the ability of cooking, learning and all kinds of chores in the home, all directed towards a better house wife. The gender role type thus, poses a bias against the girls by the society. By and large, the predicament of the Nigerian girl-child is enormous. Thus, in Nigeria, the girl-child is faced with lot of problems and constraints, which act as serious impediments towards her self-realization. It is therefore in line with the above that the researcher intends to ascertain the implication of early marriage on woman educational deployment in Nkanu L.G.A as the area of the study.
Statement of the Problem
Despite the global efforts to promote education, the overall rate of decline in education has been very slow. There is however no doubt that the women folk have suffered depression and neglect in the path of which they are derogatory regarded as second class citizens in so many ways including their educational development. Girls and women constitute 50% of Nigeria's population. Ironically, less than 39% of the total female populations are literates as against 63% literate male population (UNICEF, 2008). This is because, in most societies, it is still considered irrelevant to send the girl-child to school. The issue is about the girl- child. Considering her roles in any society aspiring for sustainable development. Unfortunately, she has continued to be the subject of rejection, marginalization, and deprivation.
In Nigeria, the predicaments of the girl child are better imagined than experienced. They rear their ugly head in the area of denial of access to quality education, good health, survival and incidence of child labour, child trafficking, prostitution, early marriage and ritual sacrifices. Against this backdrop, it becomes pertinent to ask: what are the implications of early on women educational development in the Nkanu Local Government Area. Thus, the problem this study seeks to investigate is the implications of early marriage that women faces in an attempt to be educated. The above problem forms the basis for the study.
Purpose of the Study
The broad objective of this study is to assess the challenges of early marriage and its implication on women educational development in Nkanu Local Government Area of Enugu State. Specifically, the study aims at:
1. Ascertaining the causes of early marriage in Nkanu Local Government Area.
2. Determining the roles education play in the development of women in Nkanu Local Government Area.
3. Finding out how which impede the effective education of women in Nkanu Local Government Area.
4. Finding out the strategies that will help to reduce early marriage in Nkanu Local Government Area.
Significance of the Study
The findings of this study will be beneficial to many state stakeholders including girl child, parents etc. The study will be beneficial to the girl child since it will help to create awareness to the girl-child on the implications of early marriage and ways of avoiding them, so that more interest would be put on education by completing her education before getting married. Also the result of the study will help the girl-child to know her rights. The study will help the girl- child to know that education is an important agent of socialization, shaping values and attitudes to the needs of contemporary society.
Also the result of the study would help teachers create programmes, either once in a week or twice which will guide early marriage and it implications on girl- child education development and emphasize on it seriously. This is because without education the realization of all other rights e.g. socio-economic and political right becomes impossible. In the typical Nigerian setting, education of the girl child has not received serious attention. Again the girl child will be able to know
the strategies to reduce early marriage and embrace education to improve her life style. It will prevent potential complications of early marriage and prolong labor.
Scope of the Study
This study is only confined to investigating early marriage and its implication on women educational development in Nkanu Local Government Area of Enugu State. It will also investigate the causes of early marriage in Nkanu Local Government Area, the strategies that will help to reduce early marriage in Nkanu Local Government Area, the factors which impede the effective education of women in Nkanu Local Government Area, and finally, the roles education play in the development of women in Nkanu Local Government Area.
Based on the problem and the purpose of the study stated above, the following research questions were drawn to guide the study:
1, What are the causes of early marriage in the Nkanu Local Government Area?
2. What are the roles education play in the development of women in Nkanu
Local Government Area What are the impediment to the effective education of women in the Nkanu Local Government Area?
3. What are the strategies for reducing early marriage in Nkanu Local Government Area?.