African, traditional rulers, religious heads at Keeping Girls in School Summit

APA-Dakar (Senegal)

The Sultan of Sokoto (Nigeria), His Eminence Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III, together with The Kabaka of Bugundu (Uganda), His Highness Ronald Edward Frederick Kimera Muwenda Mutebi II, Tuesday chaired the ‘Keeping Girls in School Summit’; a convening of African leaders, traditional rulers, religious heads, youth groups, advocates and thought leaders, in Abuja, Nigeria.

The two-day event brings together influential traditional and religious leaders from across the continent to discuss the critical issue of keeping girls in school to complete primary and secondary education (that is, 12 years of education) and find solutions from within the rich, diverse cultures and values of Africa’s thought leaders.

With poverty being one of the key drivers of keeping girls out of school, the Summit also seeks to promote incorporating in-school skills that generate income.

For decades, African governments and international development partners have been trying to improve and reduce suffering as a result of pregnancy and child birth.

Very few improvements have been recorded in the health of women and children, despite studies showing that the health of children substantially improves when the mother is educated.

Completion of secondary education by girls has been found to significantly improve not only maternal and child health, but women’s decision-making, as well as their ability to earn a living; thus improving the health and nutrition of families and communities.

This undeniable link between the education of the mother and health and development outcomes of families, shows that the future of African families is dependent on the education of the girl.

The summit provides a platform for community leaders to share ideas and best practices and develop strategies and networks to keep girls in school.

It also serves as a means to sensitize and equip these leaders with the right skills to motivate parents and care givers to be deeply committed to ensuring all girls in their constituencies complete at least 12 years of education.

Speaking at the event, the Sultan of Sokoto called on all traditional and religious leaders on the continent to focus on the development of their communitiesstating: “A key factor in the development of our communities is the education of our girls."

He further stated: “I believe traditional and religious leaders will lead in shaping the future of Africa by ensuring all girls complete secondary school education and learn life and livelihood skills in the process."

In attendance were President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria, the Emir of Kano (Nigeria) His Highness Muhammadu Sanusi II who presented a lead paper titled: “Perspective on Development in Africa - population, education and investment”; the Emir of Argungu (Kebbi state, Nigeria) His Highness Alhaji Samaila Mera; the Nnabagereka of Buganda Queen Sylvia Nagginda; the Asantehene of Asante Ghana; Archbishop of Abuja, Cardinal John Onaiyekan; Sheikh Sheriff Ibrahim Saleh; Queen Mother of the Asante, Her Majesty Nana Ama Konadu; Sultan of Zinder (Niger Republic) His Highness Alhaji Aboubacar Sanda.

Representatives from international organisations such as the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), UNICEF), UNESCO, UNFPA, the Department for International Development (DfID) and others are also attending.

Also in attendance are representatives of various ministries, departments and agencies in Nigeria, including the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, who in his remarks reiterated the importance of girls’ education.

The conference gives the participants the opportunity to reflect and come up with ideas on how they would contribute to the movement of keeping girls in school in their communities, by increasing enrolment, retention and completion of school as well as ensuring girls acquire life and livelihood skills. This initiative would be amplified through the support of gender and youth focused groups and organizations.

African Youth Groups will support the traditional and religious leaders by amplifying the initiative through encouraging the youth to mentor and actively participating in promoting Keeping Girls in School in their communities.

The Initiative also brings together African female leaders who will use their influence to promote keeping girls in school; serving as mentors and role models in their communities.

Following the conference, it is envisioned that traditional and religious leaders will continue to have a platform for regular engagement and knowledge-sharing on keeping girls in school in Africa.


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