Ngozi Okonjo Iweala was able to attain this great feat as a woman as a result of her educational prowess and has become a role model for many women around the world. Against this backdrop the conversations bordering on girl child empowerment through education should remain on the front burner of government legislations, as an avenue to build the human capital base of the girl child, Ere-Ebi Agedah IMISI writes.

Worrisome is the current issue of insecurity faced by the country which has pushed other burning areas to the background like discussions surrounding the girl child. As a nation, we cannot shove the girl child, who grows to be a woman, a caretaker, educator that plays the largest role in the decision-making process and long-term development of nations.

Educate a girl and you have educated a community if a girl child is educated she will make informed choices which will affect her family and in society in the long run.

Oxford dictionary defines education as, “a process of teaching, training, and learning, especially in schools or colleges, to improve knowledge and develop skills.” It is the action or process of being educated.

The concept of education is the process of acquisition of knowledge and experiences, and the development of skills and attitudes of an individual, which help them, leave a fruitful life and contribute to the development of society. The main purpose of education is the all-round development of individuals. Education aims to not only focus on skill development but also on personality development to help individuals become socially responsible citizens of a country.

After attending a one-day media orientation parley with the theme Catalyzing the Media as Partner for Human Capital Development in Nigeria, I understood that the media has a role to play in ensuring that government at all levels invest in the quality education of the girl child by rolling out education interventions adding that this will enable them to realize their potential as productive members of society.

According to the Human Capital Development Network, focus on the girl child intervention will create an employable female adult who will make informed choices and instil that in her children who are eventually released into society.

Explaining the idea behind Human Capital Development, HCD Development Governance International, DGI Consult Dr Gafar Alawode noted that HCD is the knowledge, skills, and health that people accumulate throughout their lives, enabling them to realize their potential as productive members of the society.

Furthermore, he stated that advancing HCD requires investing in people including the girl child through quality education, nutrition, health care, jobs and skills. HCD is a policy objective that has lacked awareness and must be pursued with all energy as it has implications for our collective wellbeing in many areas including poverty reduction, security among others.

It is important to note that Nigeria’s performance on the Human Capital Development index is abysmal as the country was rated 152 out of 157 in 2018 with an HCI score of 0.34 (out of 1) despite its vast natural resources. Human Capital Index, HCI is a measure of how much human capital a girl child born today expect to acquire by age 18, given the risks to poor health and poor education that prevail in the country where she lives. Two years after, in another assessment by the World Bank under the Human Capital Development Project, the country recorded an HCI score of 0.36 point in 2020 indicating a 0.02-point improvement in its Human Capital Index which is still not impressive, hence the need to create awareness and draw the attention of government at all levels.

Bearing in mind that the transforming power of education on the girl child cannot be overemphasised, the Human Capital Development Network, HCDN, a network of development practitioners, Civil Society Organizations, and media with membership drawn from the 36 states and FCT was established to advance the cause of HCD in Nigeria through advocacy and accountability.

Also, the network called on the federal government through the Human Capital Development Core Working Group under the National Economic Council to fast track the process of engagement with the tiers of government to further engender HCD as a development policy objective.

We know that your health is your wealth and with the girl child in focus, the network also called for an increased investment across the health and education sectors which will be evidenced by timely release of budgetary allocations, full release and cash backing of appropriated sums and effective utilization of such funds.

In addition, the government at all levels should see the current security challenge ravaging all parts of the country as a consequence of under-investment in the human capital of the citizenry and therefore consider HCD investment as a potent intervention towards accelerated growth, shared prosperity, enhanced productivity of the citizenry and enduring peace with the girl child as the focus.

Consider Ngozi Okonjo Iweala now we should know that empowering the girl child through education is the right thing to do. With a sense of urgency, the campaign for an educated and productive girl child begins through government deliberate interventions, adding that illiteracy leads to poverty and poverty level has led to insecurity, which in turn has huge implications on the progress of human capital development in the girl child.

The time is now as the government must begin to focus on the girl child, protect and empower her for the greater good of the society.

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