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Plan Cameroon Preoccupied With Girls 

By Lindi Bi Nabain — Girls still account for 60 percent of the 40 million children in Africa who do not go to school. This is a major preoccupation, Plan Cameroon says. According to Plan Cameroon’s Country Director, Famari Barro, girls in many countries are still unable to attend school and complete their education due to financial, institutional and cultural blockades. He added that the success of girls’ right to education is first of all an obligation and a moral imperative’.

He said evidence has shown that girls’ education, especially, is a powerful transformative force for societies and girls themselves [and]: could bring desired development outcomes; reduce mortality and infertility, poverty and lead to equitable growth, change in social norm and democratisation. He added that the education of the girl-child in the region remains a taboo since most parents still prefer their girl child to get married, most often at a very young age, and to men old enough to be their fathers.

“Girl enrolment at the primary school is lower than that of boys,” Famari Barro said, denying claims that the education of the boy-child will, in future, be in danger. He added that though focus is on the girl, Plan does not relegate boys since their mission is to see that both boys and girls have access to equitable and quality education. The Far North Region is considered one of the worst in the country as far as education is concerned, Justin Essama, head of Plan’s Maroua Programme Unit said. 

He said Plan is working with other stakeholders to raise awareness of the importance of birth registration (only around 60 percent of children possess birth certificates which provides easier access to services such as health and education, ensuring that children learn in safe, healthy and child-friendly environments by building and rehabilitating schools, providing scholarships,

donating didactic materials and, above all, sensitise parents and the population on the importance of sending the girl-child to school. He said Plan’s mission is to improve the quality of life of disadvantaged children in developing countries through a process that unites people from all cultures and add meaning and value to their lives.

According to UNICEF, as the world moves towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals, MDGs, in 2015, it has been realised that girls still account for about 60 percent of the 40 million children in Africa who do not go to school because of economic hardship and some hostile practices. The situation of the education of the girl-child is exacerbated in some areas in the Far North Region where cultural norms limit the girl-child to marriage, child bearing and caretaking and, as such, education is seen as a waste of time and resources.

In a prelude to the celebration of the second edition of the International Day of the Girl-Child, celebrated on October 11 under the theme; “Innovating for Girls’ Education,” Plan Cameroon, Maroua branch, organised a press conference to brief the press on the event and also to present Plan Cameroon’s “Because I am a Girl (BIAAG) campaign, that was launched globally on the first-ever International Day of the Girl-Child on 11 October, 2012, under the theme
‘Learn to Live.”

According to Plan’s information kit, girls themselves were crucial in the global movement to establish the Day of the Girl, and, through their stories, ideas and views, Plan came to believe that a day for girls would, “bring global focus to the widespread denial of basic rights to girls, and the “invisibility” of girls in the global development agenda; help to make girls and their rights more visible. Girls can bring about social change that benefit not only themselves, but their families, communities and entire societies as well as help to achieve the MDGs and enable girls to gain an equal position in society; this is not only the right of girls and a moral duty, but essential to breaking poverty.

The International Day of the Girl-Child promotes girls’ human rights, highlights gender inequalities that remain between girls and boys and addresses the various forms of discrimination and abuse suffered by girls around the world. Plan was the first major organisation to call for an international day of recognition for girls and achieving it was one of the earliest goals of the campaign.

First published in The Post print edition no 01471


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