The girl child has been given so many definitions and hyphenations. This pithy essay attempts to dissect the girl child by focusing on her education. The essay reads the girl child through the eyes of womanism and feminism, (the two theories that argue for the promotion of femaleness although with some subtle differences) and concludes that education of the girl child dependens on some factors which includes: culture, religion and ideology which are relative to the location: “time and space” of the ever spinning society.
Overview of the education of the girl child.
In the words of a great philosopher, Plato, paraphrased thus, man cannot learn what he cannot know. Education, be it formal or informal, is what everybody can access although it is based upon the magnitude of individuals in the society. As the philosopher has put it forth, education is a way of reminiscing that which is already part of us but with the help of a greater mind or people that can lead us to the truth. In fact, a right thinking man once said something paraphrased thus, I paid the school management but it was the pupils that educated my children. This is a striking reality as an attempt was made to make limpid that people educate people and not the bulky books. This then aligns with the saying that a teacher is better than two books.
By the virtue of what is the heart of the matter in this essay, education and the mentioned factors, ideology, religion and culture cannot be separated, in fact, it is on them that education is pitched. For instance, the ideology ruling in a particular society and in a particular time would certainly influence the people’s world views and beliefs. This concept is relative to the Karl Marx’s reading of the ever fluxing human society.
During the time of the great Greeks, the girl child that graduated to the womanhood had always been silenced which was why her gender was impersonated up to the time of Shakespeare in the theatre. She was never allowed to represent herself. The girl was portrayed weak but great in sexual action. Little wonder her matured type, the woman, uses her weapon of sex to manipulate the masculine hegemony in Lysistrata, a play by Aristophanes. This reality is comical as the totality of the play is also laughter inducing.
Also, in voice and social rights, her adult type is what Tennyson writes about in his great poem the “Lady of Shalott” which reads:
Out flew the web and floated wide/The mirror crack’d from side to side/The curse is come upon me,” cried/The Lady of Shalott.
This work shows how woe comes upon the feminine character because she moves out of her space; out of fate, hence she meets her Waterloo. This metaphor is manifestly limpid in the fact that the assertiveness of her adult type was restricted to an insignificant space during the wee hours of American political history in fact she was denied franchise right up to around 1922. Also, In France, Germany, Britain, America and the likes her adult type was the waiting, anxious, lonely and single wife of the men of valor at war. She was seen as a too fragile phenomenon to engage in the act of warring. Therefore she was rather kept at home to anxiously hear news about the man’s arrival.
Her education interested this essay so much that some of the factors such as, religion, poverty, cruel beliefs, culture and self-inflicting tragedy causing her to be less educated would be contemplated. Lifanda (2005) moderated by UNESCO points that “religion is a major hindrance to girl’s and women’s education.” He further stresses that it could be “misinterpreted and used to prevent female participation in education.” While Berhane (2006) makes it known that male child preference in terms of cultural beliefs and early marriage under the patriarchal force are practiced in some countries; Africa and Asia inclusive are excruciating issues affecting the girl child. That of self-indulgent tragedy is more prominent in the text of Doreen Baingana’s Tropical Fish (2005) where the youths, most especially the girl children involve in ‘premature sexual ritual’ which affected their lives drastically.
The Girl child: Some significations.
Definitions abound when the meaning of the girl child is brought to fore. Within the broad range of sex, she could be likened or understood in terms of binary oppositions. In this view, the girl child is always seen as the opposite of the boy child in such a way that natural characteristics distinguished her from the latter. Extensively, she is seen as a subset in the main set of the boy child in time in antiquity. Berhane (2006), states that her counterpart is preferred rather than her in Asian and African society. This is to say she is seen as a weak version of the boy child. As a subset, the opposite sex reference is used to implied her meaning even in some spiritual books like the Bible and Koran
Sex and the girl child
Within the range of sex, Gretchen Heidemann et al (2009) make a shocking revelation about the girl child. Based on the thorough research conducted, the girl child is said to have been a cynosure of cruel sexual ravishing. This is also the case in Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy where the feminine-titular character, Tess, is ravished by Alec. The incessant disturbing instances of the rape of the girl child in India and her abduction by Bokoharam in Nigeria are also relevant to this. In totality, this cruel action against the girl child is indifferent to her education. It is a thing capable of causing psychological disorientation for the girl child.
Gender and the girl child
In terms of gender, according to Reeves and Bade 2009, the girl child gender refers to the socially determined ideas and practices of what it is to be female. By social determination, the girl child is then categorized as belonging to some group in the society with some expected normative functions and roles relative to her gender characteristics. She is seen to be an auxiliary in the functioning machinery of patriarchal society. There are a lot of Don’ts for her in some culture. Particles of these are seen in Monica Ali’s Brick Lane where Chanu warns her girl child Shahana that she must not be seen by men, she must not put on skinny dresses, she must not speak foreign language, and most relevant, she must not argue with him otherwise chronic retribution would be used on her. This is a cruel way of staving off the voice of the girl child. This is also bad as voicelessness signifies weakness in self-assertiveness.
So far, what is implicated in the above is that the girl child is known and defined in many ways but more defined in terms of binary oppositions,sex, and gender. Through them what she is to the society in relation to time and space is highlighted.
The girl child and boundary covered
Gretchen Heidemann et al 2009 reveals that the nomenclature, girl child has been grossly used by scholars to mean less or more than it actually implied. To avoid this, these essay definitions of the girl child translate to all females awaiting graduation into the womanhood. It also examines the ordeal of her advanced (more appropriate, matured) type – the woman so to see her future through the past and the experiences of the woman. This being the case, sex, gender and social stipulations both culturally and politically are the signifying markers of the girl child’s identity, although feminists have seen this to be illogical based on the fluidity of social realities and meanings.
Educating the girl child.
It could be surprising that the girl child does not measure up to the weight of her counterpart when it comes to education. Some of the factors engendering this reality are religion, culture, economics, and ideology. The education of the girl child informally began by what the society teaches, what she begins to experience during the wee hours of her existence. This aspect is given great attention by the Freudian theory – ‘The unconscious’ or the Lockian theory of ‘Tabula Rasa’ which states that what we know comes to be by exploration of the natural world.
In some countries or parts of some countries, religion has a very strong hold on people that it determines their lives. In terms of the girl child, often, religion, in the hands of cruel fanatics caused her education. In line with this, Okekearu (2016) observes that “the adolescent girls in some homes of Fadan Kamantan are not allowed to go to school because they feel that it is a waste of resources.” The girl child as a metaphor of wastefulness in this reading by the myopic men is indifferent to gender equality as they interpreted her to even be a liability for the reason that she will soon leave her parental home for the matrimonial one. This ideology is more prominent among the Hausas in Nigeria. Little or no education is given to the girl child. In fact, she is an object of abduction by the Bokoharam sect militating against the peace of the public in the country. In other words, the girl child, in the northern part of Nigeria is less fortunate to acquire education.
Also, in Algeria the girl child has no social face and voice that can be seen and heard. Assia Djebar puts this forth in her popular novel A Sister to Scheherazade. This is also manifestly limpid in Brick lane by Monica Ali. The female characters in the text fight to be educated and seen in the society. By implication, the Islamized society has a way of trimming below normacy the extent to which the girl child can acquire liberal western education. This is even more prominent in Nigeria among the Hausas. Virtualy, the Hausa girl’s education is usually terminated like an unwanted pregnancy immediately she is or has grown into puberty whether prematurely or maturely. This assertion finds relevance with Osamiro et al (2015) survey research that early age pregnancy, cruel religious beliefs and negative interpretation of religious ethics, gender bias and the likes always play negatively on the education of the girl child. In a tight water whole, the education of the girl child in terms of religious stipulation in some Islamic societies always poses a threatening impact on the girl child, although this is not the case in other religious conception.
For instance, Christianity allows for the girl child to be educated like her male counterpart. Little wonder, a woman contested for the post of presidency in the United States of America. But this did not stop the incumbent Nigerian president to indirectly question the degree of the girl child activism having said his wife was only expected to function well in two domestic spaces: ‘the kitchen and the other room’.
In terms of culture just like religion, the girl child always has to be seen as a fixed material dependent on cultural rules. Onochie, ( 2010) reveals that, certain Islamic practices prevent young girls from schooling in some northern parts of Nigeria. Through culture some even see the girl child as a profitless article therefore they take her education and person less serious. This reality is manifestly limpid in Buchi Emecheta’s The Joy of the Motherhood. The girl child in the novel suffers a lot from patriarchal marginality. This is also the case in Mariama ba’s So Long a Letter. In the Nigerian Igbo culture, the girl child is inferiorized. A wife that has no male child is said to be empty. In fact, the more she bears a female child, the more empty she becomes and education is never a guaranteed parental gift for her girl child as she has been culturally dubbed a substandard patriarchal consumable commodity.
In terms of ideology, the girl child’s education is usually considered not significant. And by implication, the girl children are mathematically divided. The patriarchal society always operates within the ideology of gender superiority to carve a better place for themselves in the society at the disadvantage of the girl child. Regarding this, the female child is usually repressed linguistically. This is the case as some spiritual books like the Bible and the Koran use he, man, mankind and so on to talk about the two genders. So, the ‘sheing’ of the girl child started from roles apportioning where she is restricted to derogated monolithic spaces rather than the productive and dynamic ones. As in, in the kitchen, in the room, at home, in the other room, instead of the active opposites of these, such as, at work, in the office and so on.
However, the Western girl is usually immune to all these injustices to some extent. Even when she is not also given tally with the boy child, her education is far better guaranteed than that of the colored girl who is not equal with the white girl and the boy child generally. This then leads to double marginalization for her. In the Western society, the girl child has a voice to say yes or no and contact the authority if her yes and no are unjustly dealt with, however, the colored girl is usually voiceless regarding this, no adequate functioning institution to reason with her assertive voice. In fact, her assertive voice would be a taboo and religion and culture would always tell her to keep quiet even when this is going to be excruciating for her. This case is manifestly seen in Imagine this by Sade Adeniran. In this novel, The girl child is so voiceless that she starts writing to Jupiter to save her from the helplessness of voicelessness.
The education of the girl child.
Given all the above-dissected perspectives, it is revealing that the education of the girl child depends upon some societal ethos woven within the fabric of religion, ideology and culture. In some cases, some religious rules would allow for the girl child to fully grow into adulthood hence giving her opportunity of proper education, some religious rules take this away from her and subject her to early marriage which is basically indifferent to her education. So the girl child education is then location and culture relative, as what is meat to a particular culture could be a poison to the other.
In terms of ideology too, the girl child could be fortunate or unfortunate to be well educated depending on the ruling idea of her society. The discourse has proven it that the Western ideology does not support the holistic girl child marginalization but the same thing cannot be said of other continents’ ideology, most especially Africa.
Also, the girl child could facilitate her own setback.. Some girl children could want to grow faster in sexuality hence imbibing sexual ritual of immorality. This case can be buttressed with what happened to Akon in the club Zen where an underage girl was caught with him. This put Akon in trouble but the fact that the girl child was also out of boundary cannot be ignored and as she was, her type would be very difficult to be educated because she would certainly be prone to fatherless or suitorless pregnancy due to her chosen negative lifestyle.
This essay has looked at the girl child from the angle of sex, gender, culture, ideology and religion. Her education is said to base on them and the girl child education is not fixed in definition based on the societal ethos dominant where she lives. The essay also makes it revealing that the education of the girl child is mind and attitude relative, as some of the girls children are imbibing premature sexual culture that is indifferent to their education. The society could however do better to make sure the education of the girl child is not taken by levity by looking beyond all the pejorative assertions against social and cultural configuration of the girl child.