Girl Child Concerns (GCC) is a Nigerian Non-Governmental Organization, established in 2000, dedicated to improving the lives of youth, particularly of girls, through improved education opportunities while ensuring availability of board-based education for all young people. Through a comprehensive approach, GCC provides scholarship opportunities that not only offer formal education but also help equip girls with life skills. In addition to attending school, every GCC scholarship student attends an annual skills development retreat for four days to foster inspiration and motivation within the girls, as well as develop personal relationships. These life skills workshops encourage the girls to build an agenda on what they want to learn (for example, the strategies for passing exams, or addressing concerns about early marriage, teenage pregnancy, and more). Scholarship recipients also commit to give back by committing to help at least five other children, as well as to participate in a legislative education campaign that involves getting girls to share their experience and speak directly to lawmakers.
Definition of Problem
Girls’ education is disfavored in many communities in Nigeria due to cultural perceptions, and compared to boys, girls have an extremely high dropout rate. Without education, girls often end up in poverty, dependency, and early marriage. In addition, the community is robbed of the skills and talents these girls would have contributed. There are many reasons for these numbers, including cultures that undermine the importance of girls’ education; conflict in the country, in particular in areas long held by Boko Haram that have forbidden girls from attending school; perceptions of gender roles among girls and in the general community; poverty; and forced child marriage.
Initial Steps and Options:
We will first review challenges to girls’ education in Africa, and then put this research in the context of Nigeria (through an earlier DAT project, there is excellent background information on promoting girls’ education in South Sudan, and the team will access to the individuals leading this initiative). We will then host various interviews with our partners at the GCC, staff at the Keough School, and various experts of the Nigerian school community.
Definition of Success
In the end, GCC would like contextualized recommendations on how GCC can attract, maintain and successfully engage girls’ students in school and build opportunities for their futures in line with best practices globally, learning from the interviews and dialogue with those who know the context as well.