Education of children and parents can help to end child marriage

Education is the most important key to help end the practice of forced child marriages – and education may prove to be more successful in preventing child marriages than banning child marriages.

Child marriage is a violation of human rights and the solution is for the government to reform the education sector, to see basic education as a priority and as an indispensable tool for economic and social development.

Over 10 million children are out of school in Nigeria, 39% of adults cannot read and write, 2% of married adolescent girls are in school and 34% of girls are out of school in some areas.

This means we need urgent action, adoption, implementation and evaluation of the educational policies. We also need a good curriculum, quality of education and teacher training, and we have to build good schools with good basic educational facilities including well-equipped libraries.

We have to look beyond 2015 and the rate of out-of-school children will drop tremendously.

Education of parents is just as important as education of children because education will broaden their horizons and help convince parents of the benefits of having their children educated. It is important to provide education that involves more than reading, writing and maths.

Teaching these young girls life skills – including reproduction and contraception information – how to have fun and how to play in sports is proving to be a positive way to change their lives and futures.

Girls who are able to complete primary school tend to marry later and have fewer children. Girls who marry as children (under 18) are often susceptible to the health risks associated with early sexual initiation and child bearing including HIV and obstetric fistula.

Lacking status and power, these girls are often subjected to domestic violence, sexual abuse and social isolation.

Early marriage almost always deprives girls of their education or meaningful work, which contributes to persistent poverty.

Focused attention must be paid to getting girls into school and helping them to stay there, through concrete policy measures such as improving infrastructure in order to create a gender-sensitive educational environment. We should provided female teachers trained in counselling..

Child marriages can be prevented by simple interventions such as community conversations, school supplies for girls and giving families economic incentives and alternatives to delay the age at which their daughters get married.

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