The Wife of the President, Mrs Aisha Buhari, on Thursday in Abuja commended UNESCO and Procter and Gamble (P&G) for their joint project aimed at empowering 60,000 girls and women in Nigeria.
Buhari gave the commendation at the Graduation Ceremony of 7,500 Non-Formal Education Learners and Announcement of the 2nd Phase of the UNESCO-Always Skills Development Through the use of ICT in Nigeria.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Mrs Buhari was represented by Mrs Dolapo Osibanjo, the Wife of the Vice-President.
“First of all, I wish to commend the strong partnership between UNESCO and P&G in the progress of education especially to girls and women who are the most disadvantaged population in our country today.
“I believe we are all aware that like many countries of the world, our women and girls in Nigeria are often denied the opportunity of education.
“It is widely known that lack of education limits the prospects for women and girls to excel in life; it decreases family income; it reduces knowledge of good nutrition and health; it increases vulnerability and puts
women and girls at the risk of trafficking and exploitation.
“All of these contribute to limiting the economic advancement of women and indeed of the entire nation,’’ she said.
According to her, adult literacy programmes coupled with skills acquisition such as UNESCO is implementing, can help girls to enrol and stay in schools.
In his address, UNESCO’s Regional Director, Nigeria, Mr Benoit Sossou, said that the organisation’s 2015 reports showed that 60 per cent of out of school children in Nigeria lived in the North.
He said that 71 per cent of the figure was girls and women.
“Our collaboration with P&G is aimed at accelerating and underpinning national efforts to achieve the Education for All(EFA) goals especially, goals three, four and five; MDGs two and three, and now the Sustainable
Development Goal (SDG) four in Nigeria.
“The project is specially targeted to support 60,000 girls and women to acquire basic literacy, numeracy and life and vocational skills.
“These beneficiaries comprise illiterate girls and women who have never been to school due to one challenge or the other.
“Those that dropped out of school a bit too early before they could acquire any foundational skill and young girls who are in school but are at risk of dropping out due to poor performance,’’ he said.
According to him, the initial pilot phase of the project is operational in two states – Rivers and the FCT.
The Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, said that the project was aimed at accelerating national efforts towards the achievement of the gender-related goals and commitments.
Represented by Alhaji Jibril Paiko, the Executive Secretary, National Commission for Mass Literacy, Adult and Non-Formal Education (NMEC), Adamu said the Federal Government committed 6.4 million dollars to UNESCO in 2011 for the project.
He commended UNESCO for also mobilising fund from P&G to support the Revitalising Adult and Youth Literacy Programme.
In her remarks, P&G’s Director of Communications, Mr Nada Dugas, said that the firm was committed to girls’ education and empowerment.
“We believe that educated girls are better wives, mums and sisters.
“We always have a commitment that education and empowerment of the girl child is what we want to achieve as a brand.
“It has been something that we have been working on for over 25 years in Nigeria; we have been doing school education programmes for girls.
“The partnership with UNESCO is one additional programme to girls on education and empowerment; we are targeting 170,000 girls by 2018 for empowerment,’’ she said.
NAN reports that the highlights of the event were the presentation of certificates to the graduands and plagues to traditional rulers.