By Douglas Okoro
Onueke (Ebonyi) – The Ebonyi Government has embarked on consultative and advocacy campaign designed to eradicate illiteracy and all forms of gender-based violence in the state.
Mrs Stella Nwegu, Special Assistant to Gov. Dave Umahi on Adult and Non Formal Education, said that the project was part of global efforts to eradicate illiteracy, gender-based violence and promote girl-child and women education in Africa.
Speaking at a sensitisation campaign organised at Ezza South Local Government Government headquarters on Tuesday, Nwegu said that Ebonyi government had keyed into the programme. She said that the event was facilitated by the Wife of the Governor, Mrs Rachel Umahi.
She described the initiative as a “spotlight initiative” with funding from the United Nations and European Union.
She said that the governor’s development efforts would be incomplete, if education was not given priority and made accessible to every citizen of the state.
She called on the stakeholders to support the initiative and encourage all out-of-school children and illetrate persons to take advantage of the state mass litreracy education to upgrade.
Nwegu said that spotlight initiative, being implemented in the state by Education Today for Sustainable Development Initiative (ETSDI), would be executed in Ezza South and Abakaliki Local Government Areas (LGAs) for three years.
She said: “The state government has expressed deep commitment to ensure that no citizen of the state remained without basic education.
“The mass litreracy education of the government has received a boost and the aim of this advocacy and consultative meeting is to sensitise and enlighten the people to take advantage of the programme.”
The governor’s aide said that the strategy was to encourage women and out-of-school children, especially girls, to return to school under the non formal education programme.
“The ETSDI is coming under this initiative to help us build the capacity of our facilitators, to help our people come to the mass litreracy centres and acquire basic education.
“Many out-of-school children are from illetrate homes and when our illiterate parents acquire basic education, it will address out-of-school problem.
“This programme is targetted at illiterate parents at the rural areas and girls who dropped from school because of early marriage, rape, unwanted pregnancy and other related gender-based violence.
“It will be easier for illiterate parents to send their children to hawk, force them into early marriage and engage in Female Genital Mutilation,” she said.
Miss Ijeoma Ekwueme, National Coordinator of ETSDI, said that the project was meant to ensure the enrollement of every out-of-school youth back to school and discourage all forms of gender-based violence against women and girl-child in Ebonyi.
Ekwueme urged the stakeholders to support the project by mobilising “this special population” to enroll in all the adult education centres in order to benefit from the programme.
Earlier, the project manager of ETSDI, Mr Maurice Ogbe, also said that the initiative was aimed at ensuring gender parity in education.
Ogbe regretted that the girl-child had been marginalised in the education distribution index.
He said: “The gender parity index shows that there are more male enrollement in schools than female and the disparity is caused by economic, cultural and social factors.
“Many girls drop out-of-school because of early or unwanted pregnancy.
“We are here to let you know that there is hope for them to further their education through non formal education programme.”
Meanwhile, the Chairman of Ezza South LGA, Chief Sunday Ogodo, has pledged support to the project and called for effective collaboration by stakeholders to sustain the initiative.
The traditional ruler of Ameka Autonomous Community, Martin Nwali, and other prominent people of the area, also pledged their support and cooperation for the success of the project.
They commended the state government’s determination to eradicate illiteracy among the vulnerable group in Ebonyi.