Influence of media campaigns on early marriage as it affects educational attainment of women



Researchers have mapped out the relationship between women’s education and development. These include: The increased participation of women in productive activities, reduced reproductive burdens, improved maternal and family health, and increased opportunities for the education of children, especially daughters. Researchers also highlight the empowering role of education, that is, the crucial role it plays in increasing women’s self-esteem and personal fulfillment through the dissemination of information, knowledge and skills (Emebet Mulugeta 1999:7). The importance of educating girls is entering public consciousness globally. The education of girls is a stimulus for societal change and human development. Studies consistently document that girls’ education enhances the welfare of the population and increases the country’s economic productivity. Hence, investing in girls’ education provides the highest returns, both economically and socially (UNESCO 2002b). Of course, the transformative power of education, especially women’s education, as a key to the desired societal development in developing countries has repeatedly been demonstrated. Despite wide acknowledgment of the value of female education, women and girls in developing countries, including Nigeria, are still excluded from the educational system. Many researchers argue that efforts to promote gender equity in the educational system of developing countries are confronted by challenges including poverty, cultural beliefs and practices. In developing countries, including Nigeria, economic, social and cultural factors, in complex interaction, play their part in determining access to and success in education, both for boys and girls. However, the impact of these factors is greater on girls than on boys in most contexts. A useful way to look at these different dimensions of the problem is to divide them into ‘supply-side’ and ‘demandside’ factors. The supply-side factors include: Shortage of places and poor physical infrastructure, poor quality of education, and lack of female teachers. Shortage of school places, the remoteness of rural schools and poor physical infrastructure are major problems in many developing countries. Such deficiencies are often due to lack of resources. Girls tend to suffer more than boys from such deficiencies. Girls are often disadvantaged because of well-founded concerns about their physical security. The poor quality of school facilities in the developing world also militates against girls’ attendance. In societies, which ascribe great importance to female ‘modesty’, simply a lack of toilet facilities can make school environments inhospitable to girls and deter parents from sending their daughters to school. The quality of the education offered in developing countries is often very poor. This is particularly so for girls, with curricula and textbooks frequently reinforcing limiting and demeaning stereotypes about women’s roles. Studies show that girls often have to spend more school-time than boys doing non-formal educational “house-keeping” tasks. Where there are little educational benefits to be gained, it is not surprising if poverty-stricken parents decide that it is not worth incurring the costs of sending a girl to school. Furthermore, studies in sub-Saharan Africa show that the lack of female teachers as role models is discouraging the girls and can prevent them from doing well at school. The demand-side factors include: Socio-cultural attitudes, and direct and indirect costs. In many developing countries, a woman’s role is still defined in terms of marriage and child rearing, and girls’ education is seen as less important than boys. Other cultural features also have a strong effect on girls’ education. For instance, in patrilocal societies, including Nigeria, a young girl moves into her husband’s family on marriage, so it is her husband’s family rather than her birth family that reaps the rewards of her education. In such societies, parents look to sons to take care of them in old age, which is another incentive for parents to educate sons rather than daughters (UNICEF 2002a; UNESCO 2001; Synder 2001).