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WOMEN EDUCATION AND SOCIO-ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN ABAKALIKI EDUCATION ZONE OF EBONYI STATE
1.1 Background to the Study
All over the world, Education is recognized as cornerstone for sustainable development. According to the Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN, 2004), the purpose of education is to equip the citizenry to reshape their society and eliminate inequality for national development that fosters the worth in socio-economic development of the individuals. In the last two decades, the status of women and need to integrate them into socio-economic development processes have dominated the discourse at National and International workshops, seminars, and conferences among others. The problems of women opportunities for education looms larger at the turn of twenty-first century in Africa and they equally represent two thirds of the world illiterate adults while girls account for a similar proportion of world’s out of school population (Attamah, 2011; Abonyi, Nwocha, and Collins, 2014). However, for women to be integrated into development processes, they need quality education, in order to become co-partners in national and socio-economic development.
Based on the notion of our fore-fathers, in which they believed that women education end in the kitchen, it means that women should not go to school but we know that without formal education there will be no full development. Women should be recognized as human beings believing that women contribute about 45 to 50% of socio-economic development of any Nation. For Example; the former minister of information and communication Professor Dora Akunyili, who through her effort repositioned theNigeria’s Health Sector as the Direct General, National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) these contributions are actually the fruits of education of the women. The quantity and quality of education available toNigeriawomen will invariably determine the developmental rate ofNigeriafamilies, andNigerianation at large.
Women’s role in National and socio-economic development cannot however be overemphasized. The researcher believes on the saying that “behind every successful man there is woman”. This potently indicates that women contribute to the successes attained by great men all over the world. At the home setting women play domestic roles such as caring for children and the entire family, farming, petty trading, cooking of food, washing clothes and a host of others. In spite of these roles, the female is a disadvantaged sex inNigeria. This is so because they are not given the opportunity to be part of decision making in the society that is to be elected into political position. (Durosaro, 1998; Nzeibe, 2008’and Esere, 2001).
According to Onyiye (2008),Nigeriais carving for patriotic citizens to develop their potentials politically, economically, socially and technologically. The actualization of these wonderful goals is dependent on the provision of functional education to the citizenry especially the girls who are future mothers and future teachers of children. However, from experience, with the current educational discrimination against the girl-child, women contribution to socio-economic development will not be much.
UNESCO (2002) stated that women form a high percentage of the population and should be able to contribute their quota to the socio-economic development of the nation. There is now the realization that sustainable human development cannot be effective if half of the human race (the womenfolk) remain ignorant, marginalized and discriminated against. The provision of quality formal education to womenfolk will greatly improve lives and livelihood and will no doubt have a great and sustainable socio-economic impact on women and the nation in general. This is based on the aspect of political, economic and social life, at international, regional and national levels. It is essential that the obstacles to the achievement of the goals and objectives for women are removed (Okojie, 2011). Believing too well that inNigeria, when women are elected into the chambers of National Assembly, there are much positive changes in terms of women education and sensitization. From the INEC report, the 2011 elections dealt women a devastating electoral blow especially at the National Assembly. The political success women recorded between 1999 and 2007 was eroded in the year 2011. For the National Assembly, the 2007 polls witnessed a slight increase in the number of women in the federal legislature. In 2003, the percentage of females was 2.7 percent for the senate and five (5) percent for the house of representative. In 2007, the figure rose to be 8.25 percent in the Senate and 7.22 percent in the house of representative.
At a time it was observed that the increase was a far cry from the 30 percent affirmative action presented by the International women’s conference in (Beijin, China in 1985), the figure has gone further down in 2011, only seven female Senators (7.63 percentage) and 19 representative that sailed through in 2007, out of those elected in 2007, only three female Senators and 11 representative were re-elected in 2011. From the INEC report of 2013 on how women brought changes in the socio-economic development of the nation, it will be more fruitful if women are given more chances to perform legislative functions inNigeriaas a Nation.
The importance of literacy and women empowerment in promoting equality and the advancement of women was further stressed by the Millennium Development Goals MDG’s (2011), the Education for All (EFA) and Dakar Goals (2000), Olomukoro (2012) opines that the National Policy on women was approved and adopted in Nigeria in the year 2004, of which the goals of the policy is the full integration of women into the social and political status as a means of developing the nation’s human resources for national and socio-economic development. Its objectives included the promotion of gender main streaming into all policies and programmes. Access to women educational development programmes, in the words of Kagiticbias Goksen and Gulgoz (2005), is considered one of the main factors for women empowerment and National development. However, Ifedili and Ifedili (2012), assert that Nigerian women are stalled by culture, which makes them vulnerable to effectively join the workforce and contribute to socio-economic and thus national development.
Furthermore, United Nation (UN) in UNESCO (2010) stated that women alone constitute one half of the world’s population and earn one tenth of the world’s income. They also won hundredth of the world’s property including land. This buttressed the fact that women have so far benefited very little or nothing despite contributing much from the economic resources accruing in the society.
For further contribution of women in the nation’s development (Durosaro 1998, Esere, 2001 and Nzeibe, 2008) opined that despite several roles women play in the Nation, women are disadvantaged sex inNigeriabecause:
- Ø Few among have secured job
- Ø They do not have equal responsibilities for decision making as men. As pointed earlier, only 7.3% of women are members of the National Assembly (World Development Report, 2011).
- Ø They do not have right to inherit property in some cultures.
- Ø Many female children who are used as house helps are subjected to in-human treatments from entrusted husband such as divorce and assault (Ochonogor, 2005).
- Ø Due to poverty, some are engaged in commercial sex to make ends meet. Many are exported to foreign countries to attract international client as prostitutes. Consequently, they are often prone to the vulnerability of HIV/AIDS diseases.
To encourage the women inNigeria, they should be given the opportunity to acquire education like their male counterparts so that they can contribute significantly in socio-economic development partners, civic society, non-governmental organization and private organizations should ensure that the use of women education programmes towards national development takes higher priority attention.
EmpoweringNigeriawomen towards National development should be a matter of national priority which demands the attention and genuine commitment of every responsible member of the society. It is along this line that the researcher feels inclined to put across some recommendations which could be brought into play into for realization of the noble goals of women’s contributions to national development.
The Nigerian government has crucial role to play in providing and enabling environment for Nigerian women to rekindle their hope and faith in the ability of the system to provide avenue for development of its people irrespective of sex, age, ability, regions inclination and other mundane considerations. Nigerian Nation owes the womenfolk the responsibilities of removing those artificial and institutional barriers based on religion, culture or traditional considerations which have incapacitated the ability of Nigerian women to participate effectively and freely in the national affairs particularly at the political, social and economic levels.
The importance of socio-economic development ofNigeriais a priority to be addressed by the government for the full economic, social and political development. It has been addressed that women empowerment should not be provided to the people in the urban area but to also the people in the rural areas. Okwu 2013 opined that centralization of development in any community should always consider rural development as a priority and women in the rural areas should be given the opportunity to play lead in the developmental strides. From the ideas opined by the Okwu, 2013, it was observed that since the introduction of community and social development agency, a world bank assisted programme in Ebonyi State it was noted that no women has ever head the programme in the rural area. This indicates that women in the urban area play more roles in the development of the society than those women in the rural area. The researcher also observed that women who attempted school are always given the opportunity to participate in any political functions than those who did not attend school at all, the researcher also observe that women with higher education qualifications are also given opportunity to contribute in a minute way than those that did not possess high education qualification. The opinion is the researcher is supported by UNESCO, (2010) which in their contributions observes female teachers who has higher qualifications are given more chances to contribute to the development of the society, and the suggested that all the parents to any female child in any developing countries should ensure that their wards are sent to school.
Therefore, various women organizations, ministry of women affairs and pressure group, should be committed to see that the enrollment of women in the both national and local functions are seen to be high following different sensitization, workshop and seminars which will enlightened them to be human face in the country.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Over the years, inequality of educational accessibility has been hindering women participation in socio-economic development inNigeria. Conceptually the assumed prescribed roles assigned to women by the colonial masters’ ideology of domesticity, which emphasizes domestic education for the womenfolk has female gender unequal to male to be sustained in the state. These misconceptions have been stressed further by the influences of missionary education and other male-gender providing colonial literature. (Salako 2009), said that the political culture that has emerged from the colonial orientation has been particularly patriarchal. It reflects gender inequalities in men and women’s roles, and levels the access to state power, resources and institutions. (Adebusyi, 2007). In addition, specific development involved have been immensely ineffective in the state. This is also juxtaposed by poor state controlled developmental programmes which have helped to erode independent feminist initiative ever geared towards women educational progression in our society.
Women access to formal education inNigeriais still being constrained to their unfair and unacceptable domestic workload. Based on this, the realization of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), gender equality and women empowerment target is being hindered vacuously (Opaluwah, 2007). From the forgoing, a stringent questioning of the state’s political and Institutional frameworks as they concerned educational accessibility of women towards the socio-economic development becomes imperative. It is based on these issues as enumerated herein, that necessitates the investigation of this study in Abakaliki Education Zone of Ebonyi State to ascertain the nature of women education in the zone and how this has affected their socio-economic development.
1.3 Purpose of the Study
The main purpose of this study is to investigate on women education as it relates to their contribution to socio-economic development in Abakaliki Education Zone of Ebonyi State, specially, the study is aimed to determine:
- The impact of educational discrimination on women’s contribution to socio-economic development.
- The consequences of gender inequality in education on women contribution to socio-economic development.
- The strategies for gender equality in educational opportunities.
- The strategies for improving women’s contribution to socio-economic development.
- Solutions to gender inequality in education to enable women contribute significantly in socio-economic development.
1.4 Significant of the study
Studies like that of Ufuophu (2012), Collins (2014), Ogbomida, Akindele and Osagiobare (2014), and Eseyin, Okafor and Uchendu (2014) have all championed the inevitability of women education in the socio-economic development of any nation. The findings of this study will be of immense benefit to the following; Women, Children, Government, Curriculum Planners and Implementers and other future researchers. The women will richly benefit from the findings of the study as the various reasons why women have been considered to be parts of socio-economic development of any nation. Education has special benefit to women, both when they are young and later as adult women. This will help the women on the influence of child bearing pattern, this is one of the most important pathway through which education affects the lives of girls and women. Educated women tend too many later, have fewer children and are likely to understand what they must do to protect themselves and their families from many diseases. Mangvwat and Abama cited in Mangvwat (2010) observed there are link between educated mother and the survival of their children. An educated mother is most likely to know that she and her children can be safe from such preventable diseases such as Polio, Measles Diphtheria and Diarrhea through Immunization.
In specific terms, education can lead to many benefits to women such as mortality improvement of child nutrition and health, low mortality rates, enhancement of women domestic roles and their participation in the domain of polices, improvement of economic productivity, growth and protection of girls from HIV/AIDS, abuse and exploitation. Investment in girls education most likely will yield some of the highest returns of a development investment by generating both private and social benefit that accrue to individual, family and society at large (Idoko, 2009).
It has also been established that the benefits of women education include economic productivity, and socio-economic development, intergenerational education, social equity and sustainability of development effort.
The findings of this study will be of help to the children especially the girls because the educated mothers are more likely to be enrolled in schools and to have higher level of education attainment. Having identify the importance of women to the socio-economic development, the children must be ensured that their parents enrolled them into school be it male or female.
The findings of the study will afford the government the awareness and importance of women education to the national development, will now ensure that women enrollment into school will be high and this will enable them acquire knowledge and skills, it will give government the clue to prepared women in special way by equipping their female hostels in various secondary schools and tertiary institutions with basic amenities and among others. It will also give the government the room to provide scholarship to the women who perform excellently in their discipline. It will also give the government the encouragement to organize in-service training, workshop, seminar and conferences to women to enable them be parts and parcel of every reform in the society. It will also give the government the idea to formulate policies. That will ensure women education in every state of the nation. All the mentioned above steps are the gateway to the socio-economic development of the nation.
The findings of this study will be of immense benefits to the curriculum planners and implementers (teacher) to include women in every curricular activities in the school programmes, some teachers discriminate that study will let know that there should be no discrimination because of the adage that say’s what man can do women can do better: This is specifically pointed out in Ocho (1985), that the school should be blamed for their difference in choice of subjects by the students. Subjects like Home Economics, for instance, is given preference in girls school inNigeriawhile it is not taught in boys schools. Therefore, the implementation of the curriculum discriminates. In tune past, women are given inferior education to men. This according to Kiseka (1981), was because “women curricular emphasized Home Economics” which was tagged Domestic science with sub areas as laundry, needle work, embroidery, cookery and child care. In fact, the colonial education system has discriminatory against women. Therefore, the findings of the study will bring about immense change in the both curriculum planner and its implementation (teachers), because if women are given high priority of education it will bring about balanced of development in the country.
If the curriculum planners to give provision of women workshop, seminar, in-service training and conferences in the curriculum will bring about changes in the nation building. Economically, socially and politically.
Other researchers would find this study as good reference materials in future. They will be equipped with the areas that have been covered and thus be able to add literature on areas that might not be covered in the study. They would find the recommendations and suggestions for further studies a good source for choice of topic to research on.
1.5 Scope of the study
This study is delimited to women education and the socio-economic development in Abakaliki Education Zone of Ebonyi State. The study will elaborate on the impacts, consequences, strategies and solutions to women education as it relates to the socio-economic development. All the women in the zone will be considered subject in the study.
1.6 Research Questions
To guide the study, the following research questions were formulated;
- What are the impacts of educational discrimination on women’s contribution to socio-economic development in Abakaliki Education Zone?
- What are the consequences of gender inequality in education on women’s contribution to socio-economic development in Abakaliki Education Zone?
- What are the strategies for improving women’s gender equality in educational opportunities in Abakaliki Education Zone?
- What are the strategies for improving women’s contribution to socio-economic development in Abakaliki Education Zone?
1.7 Null Hypotheses
The following null hypothesis will be tested at 0.05 alpha level of significance.
- Ho1: There is no significant difference in the mean ratings of Urban and Rural women on the impacts of education discrimination on women contribution to socio-economic development in Abakaliki Education Zone of Ebonyi State.
- Ho2: There is no significant difference in the mean ratings of experienced and inexperienced women on the strategies for improving women’s contribution to socio-economic development in Abakaliki Education Zone of Ebonyi State.