The Ondo State Government on Saturday in Akure said it is working assiduously to create an enabling environment for the girl-child education in the state in order to prevent early parenthood.
The Deputy Governor, Mr Agboola Ajayi, stated this during a presentation by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) on how to harness demographic dividends (DD) in the state.
DD is the accelerated economic gains that a country or zone can achieve when the proportion of its population that is of working age is greater than the proportion that is not economically engaged.
Ajayi noted that educating the girl-child would prevent early parenthood and sexually-transmitted diseases as well as create a skilled workforce.
“Apart from free education which the state practises, the state-owned tertiary institutions paid the lowest fees in the South-West geo-political zone, in order to make education available to all.
“Government is not taking education and health of its citizens for granted, as huge sums of money are committed to the sectors.
“Government is also creating job opportunities and other entrepreneurship for the youth in order to keep them off the streets,” he said.
According to the acting governor, the state pays the highest salary for health workers in the South-West zone after Lagos.
The UNFPA Project Coordinator in the state, Mrs Rosemary Adegbulu, said that the programme had begun in Ondo since 2013.
Adegbulu said that UNFPA desired a world where every pregnancy was wanted, hence the carrying out of demographic dividends with partner- states.
The state Statistician-General, Mr Dayo Aregbesola, said that for the state to achieve planned demographic dividend, there must be an accelerated move to lower the fertility rate.
This, he said, could only be achieved by sending every girl-child to school.
Also speaking at the event, the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Hon Bamidele Oleyelogun, promised to support the executive arm with any legislation that could fast track the achievement of demographic dividends.