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THE EFFECTS OF EARLY MARRIAGE PRACTICE ON EDUCATION FOR GIRLS IN NIGERIA
1.1 Background to the Study
Early marriage is defined as a formal marriage or informal union before the age of 18. Ango, (2013) defined early marriage as either marriage of an adolescent girl/boy or marriage of an adolescent girl to a matured man or viceversa and this happens at puberty when the individual is getting matured. The marital age according to Molokwu, (2000) is above the age of 18 years, when the individual in physically, socially, academically and emotionally matured to cope with the challenges of marriage. Early marriage was common in human history, today early marriage are fairly widespread in part of the world, especially in northern part of Nigeria. The rate of married adolescent has some vital effects on certain areas of human lives, social, educational and psychological as well as health aspect of life. In the pre-independence era when formal education was first introduced in Northern Nigeria, the government through the Native Authority (NA) (which transformed to Local Government Authority) had to force parents to send the girl-child to enroll in formal schools. The NA fully funded the education of these girls who were conscripted to various schools often located outside their province. However, the socio-cultural and religious practices that evolved later in Northern states, particularly the North East and North West changed with the highest number of girls not enrolled in schools and those who drop out to get married. The majority of these girls never return to school to complete their education, learn a trade or acquire vocational skills that would economically empower and make them self-reliant.
The effect of early marriage on the girls that affects her wellbeing and that of the society include education, lack of economic empowerment and lack of knowledge on reproductive health services which will enable them take informed decisions, enhance their ability to leverage resources and participate in community decision making. The factors usually put forward as reasons for the early marriage of girls as poverty, unwanted pregnancy, parental pressure, peer pressure and developmental stage among others. More so, it has a negative trend on the girl child which include emotional and mental distress, intolerance, school drop-out, Vesico Vaginal Fistula (VVF) disease, early widowhood, frustration and hatred for the man (Clark, 2016). Early marriage has been a common practice among many ethnic groups in the world including Nigeria. However, it has contributed to series of negative consequences both for young girls and the society in which they live. It is a violation of human rights in general and of girl’s rights in particular (Abdallah, 2015). For both girls and boys, early marriage has profound physical, intellectual, psychological and emotional impacts, cutting off educational and employment opportunities and chances of personal growth. In Northern Nigeria where the practice is prevalent, the impact is more on girls as many of them marry early in their large numbers and with more intensity. Besides having a negative impact on girls themselves, the practice of early marriage also has negative consequences on their children, families, and society as a whole (Adedokun et al., (2012). Giyan (2009) opined that early marriage also undermines international efforts to fight against poverty in developing countries. This point to the fact that the widespread practice of girls marriage makes it increasingly difficult for families to escape poverty in the developing countries like Nigeria, thereby undermining critical efforts by the three tiers of government to address educational challenges, fight poverty, HIV/AIDS and other development challenges. If the early marriage is allowed, it would have a negative effect on the labour force of the country, increasing the fertility and mortality rate of the country, etc. A wrong mentality of parents in trying to perverse their daughter virginity has lead to the increase in maternal mortality rate and the risk of contacting sexually transmitted disease (STD) (Gupta, 2014). It is very divesting to know that Bauchi is one of the states that have the highest level of married adolescents. Effort will be made to analyze the effect of early marriage on girlchild education with a view of finding lasting solution to that ugly trend.
The high level of violence and burden of HIV/AIDS infection among married adolescents cannot be disconnected wide age disparities between the girls and their husbands (Kelly et al, 2003; Clark, 2004; Karlyn, 2007; Santhya et al, 2013); and pervasiveness of the practice has made a lofty input to the burden of HIV/AIDS infection and death in Nigeria – ranked second among countries with highest burden of HIV/AIDS, 10th and 11th with highest burden of infant and maternal mortality respectively and one of the highest levels of vesicovaginal fistula globally (Tukur et al, 2015; CIA, 2015).
Studies revealed that the practice is more prominent among rural dwellers, the poor, and illiterate and in less-developed areas (Ahmed, 1986; Lesthaeghe et al, 1989; Kabir, 1998; Yabiku, 2003; Saxena et al, 2004; Ikamari, 2005; Adebowale et al, 2012; World Vision UK, 2013; UNICEF, 2014). Due to high level of illiteracy, poverty and large proportion of rural dwellers in Nigeria, the country is one of the high-risk areas of child marriage around the world. In spite of its widespread and reproductive outcomes, it is against this background that the researcher intends to examine the effects of early marriage practice on girl’s education in Nigeria.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Early marriage, contributes significantly to this poor health status. While pockets of non-governmental initiatives to address early pregnancy exist, the signal from the government’s end is rather mixed. The national policies such as those on population and adolescent health that explicitly advocates the elimination of child marriage and to raise the minimum age of marriage to 18 were resisted by a number of state governments who refused to sign the Child’s Rights Act because of its specification of 18 years as the minimum age of marriage. The country has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world; 43% of the girls were married before 18 years (UNICEF, 2011 and 2014). The widespread of this practice might not be properly conceived using the national rate; its prevalence and potential adverse effect vary in regions, it is against this problems the researcher decides to conduct this research on the effects of early marriage practice on girl’s education in Nigeria
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The main objectives of this study is to find out the effects of early marriage practice on girl’s education in Nigeria, specifically the study intends to;
1. Find out the causes of early marriage in Nigeria most especially in the northern region
2. Examine the factors that influence early marriage among the Northern citizens of Nigeria
3. Analyze the effects of early marriage practice on girl’s education in Nigeria
4. Examine the effects of early marriage on the future of female child in Nigeria
1.4 Research Questions
1. What are the causes of early marriage in Nigeria most especially in the northern region?
2. What are the factors that influence early marriage among the Northern citizens of Nigeria?
3. Is there any effects of early marriage practice on girl’s education in Nigeria?
4. What is the effects of early marriage on the future of female child in Nigeria?
1.5 Research Hypothesis
Ho: there is no significant effects of early marriage practice on girl’s education in Nigeria
Hi: there is significant effects of early marriage practice on girl’s education in Nigeria
1.6 Significance of the Study
This research work will contribute to existing research on the effect of early marriage in the society. The findings in this research will expose the government and policy stakeholders, the northerners and the general public on the negative influence early marriage has on the education of female children and future of female child in Nigeria. The findings in this research will serve as a guide and reference points for other research on early marriage and female children education in Nigeria.
1.7 Scope of the Study