Activists hail UNICEF, FG’s cash-for-girls programme

Child rights activists have lauded a fresh education initiative aimed at helping parents in the North pay for the textbooks and other school related items for their girls.

Some 23,000 girls on Monday benefited from the intervention facilitated by the Federal Government and the United Nations Children Education Fund. The Department for International Development, United Kingdom is funding the project.

Under the scheme, mothers received N5, 000 initial sums to buy textbooks, sandals, bags and other items to enable them to enrol their girls in school.

The beneficiaries are girls aged between six and 15 years and are entitled to N20, 000 annually.

The ceremony took place at the Wurno Local Government Area, Sokoto.

Commending the programme, the Executive Director, Women’s Rights and Health Project, Ms. Bose Ironsi, also called for a holistic solution to cultural practices, such as early marriage practices.

“Anything that will make the female child attend school is welcome. However, that is not enough. There should be a strategic plan to ensure that the girls are not married off early after their secondary school education. What is the benefit if the girls go to school but married off before they finish secondary school? The mothers should also be equipped and encouraged to learn a skill so that there will be no diversion of the money,” she advised.

Meanwhile, the UNICEF Press Officer, Mr. Geoffrey Njoku, who spoke to our correspondent on Wednesday, said the organisation would put in place mechanisms to ensure the judicious use of the money.

“Once a child is not in school, it means something is not right. UNICEF is involved in this project to improve access to girls’ education. The money, which will come on quarterly basis, is to encourage parents and remove the burden of school related expenses,’’ he said.

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