The education of over 11 million school going girls hangs in the balance as they are likely to remain home after the covid-19 pandemic, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
This problem, if not dealt with, will worsen the plight of the already existing canker of high number of girls without access to education.
In sub-Saharan Africa, 33.3 million girls of primary and lower secondary school age are out of school.
This number rises to 52.2 million when taking into account girls of upper secondary school age, according to a UNESCO Institute for Statistics 2018 report.
Due to the high possibility of girls education being affected if the needed attention is not given, some stakeholders in education are demanding deliberate actions from African governments and decision makers to ensure equal access of education for every girl on the continent as the world marks International Day of the Girl Child.
African Youth Activists have joined UNESCO, the All-Africa Students Union and the 100 Million Campaign, through the “Girls Back to School Campaign” to push for inclusiveness and prioritization of girls to enjoy education to the highest level possible.
This year’s commemoration, under the theme, “My voice, our equal future”, is hinged on reimagining a world led and inspired by young girls.
In an open letter signed by the activists, they expressed concerns over the likelihood of multitude of girls remaining home after the pandemic if African leaders fail to adhere to the call to ensure girls go to school.
“We have unfortunately witnessed a rise in teenage pregnancies and increased Gender-Based Violence cases during coronavirus induced lockdowns and as the financial impact of the pandemic pushes more families into poverty, cases of early child marriage and child labour are likely to grow.
The combined impacts of the aforementioned have the potential to erode all the gains made to ensure gender equality. This cannot be yet another dangerous legacy of COVID-19,” the activists said in the letter.
The young activists wrote that they “cannot sit aloof and watch all these injustices happen, especially as they will affect the education and futures of these young girls.
We understand that, already, schools are beginning to resume in some countries across Africa while some are still maintaining the online modes of pedagogy.”
They concluded that they are looking to African leaders to “demonstrate leadership in tackling this urgent issue by announcing the concrete measures your office is taking to secure the futures of every girl child by ensuring their access to quality education both now, and when schools resume.
Girls facing injustices like the ones mentioned above often suffer in silence, their abuse invisible, by publicly outlining how you are supporting their rights during this turbulent time you can help right this grave wrong.”