Impact of Early Marriage on Girl Child Education in Shomolu Local Government Area Lagos State


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1.0       Background of the Study

Education is the process of becoming critic aware of one’s reality in a manner that leads to affective action. An educated man or woman understand his or her world well and deals with it effectively. Educated men and women if they exist in sufficient number would not leave the absurdities of the present world unchanged. Edukugho (2002) noted that the prosperity of a country depends not on the abundance of its revenue, the strength of its fortifications, but on the number of its educated citizens.

According to United Nations Educational Science UNESCO (2005), in all countries of the world, education is recognized as the cornerstone for sustainable development. It is a fulcrum around which the quick development of economic, political, sociological and human resources of any country revolve. The Nigeria National Policy on education (1981) indicates that education is the greatest investment that the nation can make for the quick development of its economic and political activities.

Having recognized education as an instrument per-excellence for effective national development as well as a dynamic instrument of change, it is also the basis for the full promotion and improvement of the status of individuals including girl child or woman. Education empowers women by improving their living standard. It is the starting point for women’s advancement in different human endeavor. It is the basic tool that should be giving to girl child in order to fulfill her roles as full numbers of the society. In fact, the educational empowerment of Nigeria girl child is the spring board to every other form of empowerment, political, social, economic etc. According to James (1998), if you educate a man, you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman, you educate a nation.

The term early marriage or child marriage refers to any marriage of a child younger than 18years old in accordance to Article of the Convention on the Rights of the child. UNICEF (2005) describes it as both formal marriage and informal unions in which a girl lives with a partner as if married before the age of 18. Early marriage, also known as child marriage is defined as any marriage carried out below the age of 18 years, before the girl is physically, physiologically, and psychologically ready to shoulder the responsibilities of marriage and child bearing, child marriage, on the other hand, involves either one or both spouses being children and may take place with or without formal registration, and under civil, religious or customary laws.

Early marriage is one of the key issues affecting female children below 18years of age. These occur mostly in the Northern part of Nigeria where they believe a child’s first menstrual period should the husband’s house. In some cases, these girls are even given out before they were born to a man old enough to be their father. Could this be poverty or should I say culture? Some cultural practice have led us astray, causing harm to young people who are being fed with these lies. Making child see herself like a baby making factory but funny enough they are still born into a abject poverty.

Child marriage is a fundamental violation of human rights that can have numerous adverse effects on girls social, mental, physical, health and wellbeing. It is also not a singular violation. Having free and full consent to marry is connected to the right to life, the right to health, the right to education. The right to safety and security. In addition to denying girls their right to make their own choices for their lives, it also puts them at greater risk of early pregnancy, domestic violence and sexually transmitted infections, while reducing their opportunities for education and employment.

It is also a period when the girl-child is malleable, builds and develops her personality and character. The girl-child is a biological female offspring from birth to 18 years of age. During this period, the young girl is totally under the care of the adult who may be parents, guardians or elder siblings. Very dependent on others who she models their behaviours, through observation, repetition and imitation. Her physical, mental, social, spiritual and emotional developments start and progress to get to the peak at the young adult stage. (Sutherland, 2001). The development of any society would be grossly lopsided if the girl child is not given quality education.

Education in any normal society is accepted as an instrument to power, prestige, survival, greatness and advancement for men and women. The United Nations General Assembly (2001) adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which stipulates that everyone has the right to education which shall be free atleast in elementary and primary stages. Similarly, the National Policy on Education emphasizes among other things that there will be equal opportunities for all citizens, However, Osinulu (1994) lamented that the girl-child is discriminated against in terms of education and given out to marriage early thereby denying the girl-child the required competences for community development.

Education, as earlier stated, is the movement from darkness to light (Allan Bloom), is not only about live-hood and technical skills but more importantly provides social and connectedness or aptitude which enables one to access key resources to alleviate poverty. By in treading with others, individuals acquire the social skills and personal capacities needed to access resources and opportunity’s and to form social networks for support and assistance when required in the future. Educated woman are more likely to have a say in decision-making regarding the size of their families and spacing of their children. They are also likely to be more informed and knowledgeable about contraception and the health care needs of their children.

Adolescent girls who marry outside their communities tend to lose close friendships they had formed in their parental homes, and often become quiet and subdued. This means that even where girls have developed social networks they are unable to access them from their marital community. While marriage does not have to mean that a girl’s education finishes the attitudes of parents, schools and spouses in many societies mean that it often does. Husbands of young wives are often older men, who expect their wives to follow tradition, stay home and undertake household and child- care duties. A girl may be unable to go against her husband’s wishes and the husband’s family may refuse to invest their scarce resources in the wife’s continued schooling.

Early marriage stands in direct conflict with the objectives of the millennium Development Goals (MDGs), (Mathur 2003). It threatens the achievement of the first six goals respectively, eradicating extreme poverty and hunger: achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality and empowering women. reducing child mortality, improving maternal health and combating l-ITV AIDS. malarial and other diseases (UN, 2007).

When the relationship between age at marriage and development is examined, it becomes clear that later marriage is preconditioned for the attainment of desired development related goals. These include completion of school, acquisition of training for employment, and attainment of the skills and information related to the roles of citizen, family member, and consumer that are part of a successful adult-hood, (Mathur, 2003 and UNICEF, 2003).

Women are the heart of many societies. Regardless of whether they are working or not, mothers are very influential people in children’s lives. According to DFID (2005), educating girl is one of the most important investments that a country can make in its own future. Education has a profound effect on girls and women’s ability to claim other rights and achieve status in society such as economic independence and political representation. Having an education can make an enormous difference to women’s chances of finding well paid, raising a healthy family and preventing the spread of diseases such as HIV and AIDS.

UNICEF (2004) argues that it is not only the girls that pay for early marriage but that society also pays. Population pressure, health care costs and lost opportunities of human development are just a few of the growing burdens that society shoulders because of early marriage. Girl education is one of the means to address poverty and development problem. With education girls are given the chance to choose their own futures and not one chosen by their parents and guardian. Maihotra and Mather (1997) argue that there is a close link between delayed marriage and adult earning women’s economic future and their ability to participation in and contribute in the global economy are primary dependent on a rise in educational attainment, but this is impossible when the girl married early. Women who marry at early age are likely to find the sole focus of their lives, at the expense of development in other areas such as formal education, and training for employment, work experience and growth.

Early marriage can therefore be a significant barrier for communities seeking to raise education levels and break the cycles of poverty.

1.2       Statement of the Problem

Early marriage can be a violation of children’s basic right-to-childhood, to an education, to good health and to make decisions about their own lives. The physical, emotional and social effects of early marriage are varied, but one of the most common outcomes is the withdrawal of girls from formal education. Marriage does not have to mean that a girl’s education finishes. The attitudes of parents, schools and spouses in many societies mean that it often does. Husbands of young wives are often older men, who expect their wives to follow tradition, stay at home and undertake household and childcare duties. The girl may be unable to go against her husband’s wishes and the husband’s family may refuse to invest their scarce resources in the wife’s continued schooling. Schools often have a policy of refusing to allow married or pregnant girls or girls with babies to return. They believe that it will set a bad example to other pupils or that other parents will be angry to see the school go against the traditional believe.

Early and forced marriage is most prevalent where poverty, birth and death rates are high, there is greater incidence of conflict and civil strife and lower levels of overall development, including schooling, employment and healthcare. Married young girls are frequently taken out of school, are at a higher risk of HIV infection, early pregnancy and health conditions such as obstetric fistula. If she survives childbirth her children are less likely to grow up healthy and go to school, continuing the cycle of poverty for generations to come.

Marriage frequently follows school leaving. But it is not clear the direction of causation. Is it that early marriage causes girls to leave school prematurely such that those girls and their families predisposed to early marriage are less inclined to invest in girls’ schooling? The interaction between the number of years of a girl’ s schooling and the postponement of marriage is firmly established by demographic and fertility studies.

Even if they do permit girls to return, the school environment-rules, time-tables and physical conditions can make it too difficult for a girl to attend school and perform her duties as wife and mother at the same time, bullying and abuse by teachers, pupils and other parents can further reduce girls’ self-confidence and sense of security, forcing than to give up on schooling.

Generally, the causes of child marriage include, poverty, bride price, dowry, cultural traditions, laws that allow child marriages, religious and social pressures, regional customs, fear of remaining unmarried, illiteracy and perceived inability of women to work for money.

Parents who engage their children in child marriage often feel that this marriage provides their daughters with a sense of protection from sexual promiscuity and safe from sexually transmitted infections. However, in reality: young girls tend to marry older men who have lots of sexual expeditions thereby, placing them at an increased risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection. Married girls are more likely to get infected with diseases such as Human Immune Virus (HIV) or Human Papiloma virus (HPV), than their unmarried counterparts. In addition, there are consequences of engaging in child marriage, of which girls are mostly affected. Child marriage has lasting consequences on girls. These consequences range from their health, to education, to domestic violence, to social and economic development. A large percent of girls who enter into child marriage are often being compelled to by their parents, the society, their tradition, and the consequences accrued to involving in child marriage are often suffered by the girls who engage in it. There are so many consequences of engaging in child marriage and these consequences include- Health risk-Child marriage threatens the health and life of girls.

First of all, when a girl is married as a child, she cannot make the decision of when to give birth, the society propels her to give birth at such a tender age. Therefore, complications may arise from pregnancy and child birth, which are the major causes of death among adolescent girls below the age of 19 in Nigeria. Pregnant girls aged 15 to 19 are twice as likely to die in childbirth as women in their 20s and girls under the age of 15 are five to seven times more likely to die during childbirth. These consequences are due to largely to girls’ physical immaturity where the pelvis and birth canal are not fully developed. Teenage pregnancy, particularly below age 15, increases risk- of developing fistula. Married girls also have an increased risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases, cervical cancer, and malaria, compared to their unmarried peers. Child marriage does not only affect the mother’s health, but that of the child also. mothers under the age of l years old have 35 to 55% increased risk of delivering pre-term or having a low birth weight baby than a mother who is above 18 years of age. In addition, infant mortality rates are 60 years of age. In addition, infant mortality rates are 60% higher when the mother is under 18 years old. Children born to child mothers tend to have weaker immune systems and face a heightened risk of malnutrition.

Most developing countries, including Nigeria have a high rate of illiteracy and poverty, and one of the major causes of this is child marriage. Child marriage often ends a girl’s education, particularly in the Northern part of Nigeria. In line with this, uneducated girls are more prone to child marriage. Early marriage impedes a young girl’s ability to continue with her education as most drop out of school following marriage to focus their attention on domestic duties and having or raising children. Education, they say is the bedrock of the society. Without education, the female child has fewer opportunities of living her dreams, of become someone great in future of contributing positively, her own quota to the society, thereby making her prone to child or early marriage.

Girls who are involved in child marriage are more prone to domestic violence. The large age gap between the girl child and her spouse makes her more vulnerable to domestic violence and nonconsensual sexual intercourse. Girls who marry as children face severe and life-threatening marital violence at higher rates. The large age gap between the husband and the girl child increases the power and control a husband has over his wife, thereby contributing to an increase in spousal violence.

The United Nations, through a series of conventions has declared child marriage a violation of human rights. Child marriages violates a range of women’s interconnected rights such as equally on grounds of sex and age, to receive the highest attainable standard of health, to be free from slavery, access to education, freedom of movement, freedom from violence, reproductive rights, and the right to consensual marriage, and the consequences of these violations impact not oniy the woman, but her children and the society in general.

Early or child marriage results in a loss of childhood. Girls are inhibited from realizing their dreams and aspirations in life. Their rights are violated and they lose the ability to choose how their life is fulfilled. The dream of becoming someone great and influential in life is killed through child marriage, as it hinders them from pursuing their education, from getting a degree in school.

1.3       Purpose of the Study

The main purpose of this study is to identify the impact of early marriage on girl child education among school age female children in Shomolu Local Government Area of Lagos State. The study ought to

  1. Determine the impact of child marriage on girl-child education in Shomolu Local Government Area.
  2. Examine the impact of cultural beliefs of early marriage on girls-child education in Shomolu Local Government Area.
  3. Determine the impact of early marriage of academic performance on girl-child      education in Shomolu Local Government Area.

 1.4       Research Questions

The following research questions were designed to guide the study:

  1. What are impacts of child marriage on girl-child education in Shomolu Local Government Area?
  2. What are the impacts of cultural beliefs of early marriage on girl-child education in Shomcu Locai Government Area?
  3. What are the impacts of early marriage on academic performance on girls-child education in Shorncju Local Government Area?

1.5       Research Hypotheses

  1. There is no significant impact of child marriage on girl-child education.
  2. Cultural beliefs will not have any significant impact on girl-child education.
  3. There is no significaht impact of early marriage on academic performance of girl-child education.

1.6       Significance of the Study

Girls would benefit from this study by learning that education is the only key to achieving greater goals in life, and this will help them in correcting the entire imbalance that had existed in girls’ education.

Parents would benefit a great deal in this study by getting to learn that women education is never a Waste, and that if you educate a man, you educate an individual but if you educate a women you educate a family (i.e a nation), and this will help change their attitudes and ignorance towards girls’ education.

Government both the federal, state and local levels would benefit greatly from this study by realizing that funds, higher access to education, poverty alleviation programs should be made available for girls’ education in all levels.

Educators, educational planners, the general public would benefit very well from this study by learning that girls are in no way inferior to men, they would also benefit by learning how to educate, guide and counsel girls in carriers, choices of educational courses.

1.7       Scope of the Study

This study focuses on the impact of early marriage on girl child education in Shomolu Local Government Area.

1.8       Operational Definitions of Terms

Early Marriage: Child marriage refers to any marriage of a child younger than 18 years old, in accordance to Article of the Convention on the Right of the Child. While child marriage can happen to both sexes, it disproportionately affects girls.

Girl Child: The girl-child is a biological female offspring from birth to 18 years of age. During this period, the young girl is totally under the care of the adult who may be parents, guardians or elder siblings.

Poverty: Poverty is general scarcity, dearth, or the state of one who lacks a certain amount of material possessions or money. It is a multifaceted concept, which includes social, economic, and political elements. Poverty may be defined as either absolute or relative.

Education: Education is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, beliefs, and habits. Educational methods include storytelling, discussion, teaching, training, and directed research.

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