The impact of women literacy education on the empowerment of women can not be over emphasized. In Nigeria, as in most developing countries of the world, literacy education is valued so much that it is looked upon as a pre-requisite for all the short-comings of society as well as the surest means for empowering women and for national development. Women literacy education is that education given to female children or women at different stages and ways (formal and non-formal). It is the acquisition of knowledge, skills and abilities to become effective participant of a given social group. Women literacy education is the process that brings about self esteem which helps in promoting participation of women in organizations and their community that reflect in the society at large.
In reference to education therefore, the new National Policy states categorically that: The Federal Government of Nigeria has adopted education as an instrument per excellence for effecting women empowerment and national development. Education fosters the worth and development of the individual, for each individual’s sake and for the general development of the society. The document emphasizes that every Nigerian child shall have a right to equal educational opportunities irrespective of any real or imagined disabilities each according to his or her ability. Consequently, education has been pursued with vigour in most parts of Nigeria. It is seen as the factor whose acquisition raises one’s income as well as the social status and progress in the society.
In the past, education especially boy’s education was a sort of life assurance. Girls’ education was neglected because cultural and biological factors limited their access to education. Women’s roles were to procreate and lactate. Women had no say in any community or national development as they were believed to be the weaker-sex. This phenomenon is not peculiar to Nigeria. It is common to other parts of the world. Women have always had less access to educational opportunities than men. The reasons being that women were believed to be birds of passages who will eventually be married to other families after their training. This is why in places such as India, cousins are allowed to marry so that their wealth will be retained within their families.
Women are not treated equally as their male-counterparts in the area of education, job opportunities, distribution of income, inheritance of properties, political opportunities etc. Kagia (2015) pointed out that “these disparities do not arise out of overt or premeditated discriminatory action rather they arise because women, like all disadvantages groups, are victims of historical and cultural accidents, errors of omission rather than commission”. It was in recognition of this fact that the United Nations General Assembly of 1969 adopted a declaration on the “Elimination of discrimination against women at the international level.
Nigeria as a member of the United Nations Community has joined in the crusade by embarking on programmes aimed at bringing about social change. Most states in Nigeria, including Edo State, have shown considerable interest in women literacy education by promoting and embarking on females’ non-formal education projects for enhancing women productivity for empowering self and societal development. In order to do this effectively, Edo State established the Agency for Adult and Non-formal education centre, Edo State Skill Acquisition Centre. These agencies are charged among other duties with responsibilities to act as an “instrument for the eradication of illiteracy among adults (male and female) in the state and to provide necessary facilities for this purpose”.
Fortunately, women have not rested on their oars in protesting against discrimination. They have asked for and secured to some extent, concessions and strategies aimed at their emancipation towards contributing their own quota in the empowerment of self and economic development of the nation. The important role women have to play towards contributing to the development of the nation is a theme that is currently in vogue so much so that a lot of energies and activities are channeled towards women in the country through the Federal, State and Local Government programmes. The administration of President Ibrahim Babangida and his wife, Mrs. Maryam Babangida established National Directorate of Employment, Better Life for Rural Women and MAMSER programmes between 1986 and 1987 to conscientise women and create awareness in them to participate in activities that concern and affect them in order to uplift womanhood into competing favourably with their male counterparts when it comes to distribution of income, job opportunities, education, politics and in contributing to socio-economic development of themselves, their communities and the nation in general.
There are problems and set backs inspite of the efforts of the state agency and federal government and non-governmental organizations are making towards women literacy education and women empowerment. The question being asked is about the effectiveness of efforts being made by these bodies. To what extent were the goals and objectives achieved so as to enable the women participants contribute to the socio-economic development of self, community and nation.
Based on this study, impact of women literacy education on the empowerment of women, in the past in Oredo Local Government Area of Edo State and in Nigerian generally, women have been relegated to the background. They are therefore seen as second class citizens which is stigmatization at the highest order. They are seen as a reproduction means only useful for children up-brining. Excluded from taking up official appointments nor appearing in public places and functions. The believe was that women are to be seen and not to be heard. Women are denied access to western education as they are believed to be another man’s properties.
Nigerian parents out of ignorance paid greater attention to the training and education of their male child; women were victims of all kinds of traditions and beliefs. The eventual result is that they were neglected, illiterates, unexposed and do not contribute to socio-economic and political development. The researcher in this study tries to investigate the literacy education programme that has been in place for the women as to the government in Edo State in particular realized the need for women literacy education in order to empower them.
It is also believed that providing women literacy education for women would re-awaken them from mental slavery, create awareness and make them useful to themselves. Literacy education on empowerment of women will enable them become socio-economic buoyant, self-reliant and more actively engaged in their country’s social, political development and yield high dividends. It will serve as a process of eradicating inequalities between women and their male counterparts.
The purpose of this study is to examine women literacy education and identify its impacts in the empowerment of women in Oredo Local Government Area of Edo State. The specific purposes are this:
- To identify the relevance of women literacy education on the empowerment of women in Oredo Local Government Area of Edo State.
- To examine the degree/level of women involvement in literacy education and their attendant contribution.
- To improve the standard of women literacy education in Edo State and their self-image.
- To conscientise the women on the benefits of women literacy education for self-growth and national development.
- To make suggestions and recommendations to relevant governments or bodies on ways of improving women literacy education in Oredo Local Government Area of Edo State.
- It is expected that the results generated from the study will change the lives of the women.
- Is literacy necessary in promoting women empowerment?
- Has literacy education programme designed for women in Oredo Local Government Area help to promote women empowerment?
- In which area has literacy programme helped in empowering?
- How do the women see literacy for empowerment designed for them?
- Is there any constraint to the implementation of literacy education programme designed for women?
- Is there any relationship between literacy education and women empowerment?
This study was designed to achieve the under listed objectives:
1. To endowed them (women) with knowledge and practical handwork.
2. To make them productive and self-sustaining.
3. To contribute economic growth and national development.
4. To create a level ground for every opportunities that will enable less privileged women acquire relevant skills.
5. To re-orientate the attitude of all females irrespective of age towards education.
6. To improve the quality of women in society.
7. To create awareness among women and eradicate illiteracy among them.
8. To create financial supports that will enhance and facilitate self-sustaining business enterprise.
It is hoped that the results from this study will be of immense benefit to Oredo Local Government Area, the programme planners, state and the larger society. It will show the progress that women literacy education programme has made and also provide information, awareness, knowledge, skill acquisition, personal attitude, behavior and appreciation of the women on the impact of women literacy education in empowering them. Also, it will be useful to the state, Oredo Local Government and other agencies in deciding steps and measure to take to re-energize and encourage women towards self-development and that of the nation in general. It will show the importance of women literacy education programmes as regards to economic development and self-sustaining building in Oredo Local Government Area of Edo State. This study will help to correct the erroneous impression the women are to be seen and not heard. It will motivate the women in Oredo Local Government Area in Edo State and other parts of the nation to uphold and embrace any literacy programme designed for women.
The study is based on the following assumptions:
1. That the type of programmes would determine to a great extent the improvement that could be effected in women participants in Oredo.
2. That the women participant must be involved in planning and assessing the programme.
3. That the women participant should see the programme objectives and performance as effective to the extent of improving the lot of all women for self reliance and beyond.
4. That programme must be result oriented and practical based.
5. That issues and felt needs of the women are relevant to the literacy programme.
6. That women participants must find the curricular contents challenging and interesting.
7. That constraints and problems during planning and implementation stages hinder the success of the programme.
8. That education of women is significantly afflicted by many problems.
The scope of the study is limited on assessing the impact of women literacy education on empowerment of women through literacy education in Oredo Local Government Area of Edo State. This study will diligently investigate the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of women contributions to the Oredo Local Government Area development based on their level of educational literacy and suggests the way forward. The study will interview the women participants who have benefited or benefiting from the literacy education in the area to ascertain the impact on their lives.
This study is limited by the following factors:
Finance: This study is handicapped by financial constraints arising from the fact that there is no funding from the University of State Government and the inflationary trend has compounded the problem.
Time: This has not been on the side of the researcher in her research process. Another limitation of this research work borders on the defects and difficulties which are associated with using oral interviews and questionnaires in the process of data collection from individual who are not very educated.
Unwillingness of respondents: Some respondents are unwilling to offer answers or provide information and return questionnaire promptly within the time limit of the research.
Invalid answers provided by the Respondents: Some questionnaires are sometimes lost in the process. Unwillingness of respondents to accept questionnaires for fear of exposure of information; and consequent victimization by relevant authorities.
The meaning of terms in this study, are words used to express an idea especially a specialized concept. However, the definitions of such concepts are given below:
Impact: The influence made by something through intangible means or strong impression.
Assess: Decide or to fix the amount of something, to appraise, decide the value of e.g. property, a tax or a fire.
Assessment: This is the noun form of assess.
Programme: Plan of what is to be done, coded collection of information data, list of items, event etc. for an activity, a concert. In this study, the activity is impact of women literacy education on the empowerment of women.
Empowerment: Equipping adults illiterate with the skills of reading and writing as well as being useful to themselves and national development.
Boy-child Education: Education given to a male child.
Girl-Child Education: Education or training given to a female child.
Women Education: This is the education given to female beings.
Procreate: This is to generate offspring.
Questionnaire: An articulated well drawn/framed questions intended to extract useful information from respondent or respondents for investigation purposes.
Data: These are facts, thing certainly known and from which conclusions may be drawn.
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