By Maria F amakinwa
It was a taboo in the olden days to send the girl-child to school for formal education because of the cultural belief that she would finally end up in the kitchen or come back home with pregnancy. However, this belief among many others are now giving way. Thanks to Mrs Betty Anyanwu Akeredolu who last week organised training in ICT and other vocational skills for selected girls.

Participants of the just concluded BEMORE Summer Boot Camp 4 Girls Naija could not hide their joy as they all went home with a laptop each courtesy of the First Lady of Ondo State, Arabinrin Betty Anyanwu – Akeredolu the woman, who they described as their role model and God sent to give voices to girls in a society that marginalise females and place priority on the male – child.

Mrs Akeredolu, often preaches that when a girl -child is given adequate education and training for self-reliance it is a right step towards building a strong and progressive nation. She stated that Nigeria’s greatest mistake as a nation has been and continues to be denying the girl-child equal access to quality education by still upholding cultural norms, tradition and religious beliefs that discriminate against them. She maintained that no nation can achieve sustainable development without paying adequate attention to a girl-child education.

Her words: “The major causes of low literacy among Nigerian women is the lack of opportunity to be properly schooled due to gender stereotypes prevailing in the country. Little wonder we are barely developing as a country. The truth is that no nation can achieve sustainable development until special attention is paid to the girl -child in terms of education and protection.”

Some of the elated girls, who participated in the BEMORE training in an interview with The Hope were full of appreciations to the state First Lady for giving them the opportunity to learn how to build Solar Panel and the adequate knowledge gained in Information Communication and Technology (ICT) and other life changing skills.

A 16-year-old Ileayo Megba from Community Grammar School, Obedapo, in the riverine area explained that she was very happy to be one of the beneficiaries of the laptops. She added that the training will forever remain special to her because she had never operated computer before the event. “Aside the delicious food and free knowledge I received on ICT and how to build Solar Panels, what excited me most was the laptops given to each of us so that we can continue practising when we get to our respective homes.

This indeed is commendable because we will not forget what we were taught during the summer camp. I pray for good health for Mrs Akeredolu, to do more in her quest to empower more girls in the state.

“Though, I have heard people when they discussed about computer but I have never operated it until now. Most of my summer holidays were spent with my parents at home, helping them to sell or go to the farm. This holiday will remain unforgettable because of the laptop given to me which I am not sure my parents can afford it if not for this programme. I did not only learn computer, now I can also make Izal, liquid soap, tie head gears among others. I will forever remain grateful for this. Kudos to Her Excellency for believing in the girl-child to change the world positively.”

Sharing similar sentiment, a 13-year-old Miyentai Atili from Orioke High School, Akungba -Akoko also commended Mrs Akeredolu for the BEMORE programme which she said had helped to impact her life positively.

Atili, who also revealed that she had no computer knowledge before said that with the two weeks programme, she can now open the computer, operate Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint among others. “We were also taught how to build Solar Panels and many other life changing skills so that we can affect our world positively. My parents will be very happy for me being a partaker of this life changing programme. With this knowledge, I am ready to showcase my talents and compete with the males because what a boy can do, a girl can even do better. I will also want to say another big thank you to the First Lady for the way we were fed. It was as if the programme should continue. They gave us balanced diet which also aided our understanding. Many of us did not feel like going home.”

Lunch time.

Another beneficiary, Onyema Ihuoma, a 10-year-old from Seat of Wisdom Catholic College, Alagbaka, Akure, while thanking Mrs Akeredolu for her love and passion for the girl -child also praised her for always championing the course of females and make the society to realise that females are not inferior to their male counterparts. “The knowledge and encouragement given to us had awaken us to the reality that we are not less created irrespective of the society beliefs.”

On how the programme had impacted her life, she said, “though, I had knowledge of computer before but not to the level of what I was exposed to during the Summer Boot Camp. I also learnt how to make beads, tie head gears, importance of regular exercise and the one I cannot forget was the excursion to the Smoking Hill. I really enjoyed myself at the camp and wished that the camp has not ended.”

Benedicta Ayannuola, a 15-year-old from Fiwasaye Girls Grammar School, who also said that she had no computer knowledge before praised the First Lady for giving her the opportunity to be computer literate which she added that will give her edge in the digital world.

She said that she learnt how to make Solar Oven, Solar phone charger. “I also learnt how to operate Microsoft Excel, Power Point and household items like hair freshner, Izal among others. Before now, I normally go for summer classes anytime we were on long vacation but this year is quite unique to me because of the free ICT knowledge I received.

“This is a rare opportunity for most of us to excel as we were told that with the knowledge we were already equipped, we can overcome any challenge. We pray that Mrs Akeredolu will forever BEMORE in everything she does IJN”

Source: The Hope