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8 Importance of Improving Maternal Health through the Universal Basic Education of the Girl Child: S

Education improves health, and health improves learning potential. Education and health compliment, enhance and support each other. Together, they serve as the foundation for a better world. To be able to read, write and calculate has been acknowledged as a human right. However, more than 100 million children are still deprived of access to primary education and fewer than half of all children worldwide participate in early childhood programmes. The Universal Basic Education (UBE) Programme was introduced in 1999 by the Federal Government of Nigeria as a reform programme aimed at providing greater access to, and ensuring quality of basic education throughout Nigeria. One of the objectives of the programme is to ensure an uninterrupted access to 9years of formal education by providing free, and compulsory basic education for every child.

Why education for girls so important:

  1. Reduces inequality:

Education is a great “leveler”, illiteracy being one of the strongest predictors of poverty. Primary education plays a catalytic role for those most likely to be poor, including girls, ethnic minorities, orphans, disabled people, and rural families. By enabling larger numbers to share in the growth process, education can be the powerful tide that lifts all boats.

  1. Improves health and nutrition:

Education greatly benefits personal health education. It is particularly powerful for girls and it greatly affects reproductive health because the more educated a girl, the better her understanding about her body and rights. Thus, education for girls improves child mortality and welfare as well-educated girls and women are better informed on nutrition and immunisation. Education may be the single most effective preventive weapon against HIV/AIDS.

  1. Reduces women’s fertility rates:

Women with formal education are much more likely to use reliable family planning methods, delay marriage and childbearing, and have fewer and healthier babies than women with no formal education. It is estimated that one year of female schooling reduces fertility by 10 percent. The effect is particularly pronounced for secondary schooling.

  1. Lowers infant and child mortality rates:

Women with some formal education are more likely to seek medical care, ensure their children are immunised, be better informed about their children's nutritional requirements, and adopt improved sanitation practices. As a result, their infants and children have higher survival rates and tend to be healthier and better nourished.

  1. Lowers maternal mortality rates:

Women with formal education tend to have better knowledge about health care practices, are less likely to become pregnant at a very young age, tend to have fewer, better-spaced pregnancies, and seek pre- and post-natal care. It is estimated that an additional year of schooling for 1,000 women helps prevent two maternal deaths.

  1. Protects against HIV/AIDS infection:

Girls’ education ranks among the most powerful tools for reducing girls’ vulnerability. It slows and reduces the spread of HIV/AIDS by contributing to female economic independence, delayed marriage, family planning, and work outside the home as well as greater information about the disease and how to prevent it.

  1. Increases women’s labor force participation rates and earnings:

Education has been proven to increase income for wage earners and increase productivity for employers, yielding benefits for the community and society.

  1. Creates intergenerational education benefits:

Mothers’ education is a significant variable affecting children’s education attainment and opportunities. A mother with a few years of formal education is considerably more likely to send her children to school. In many countries each additional year of formal education completed by a mother translates into her children remaining in school for an additional one-third to one-half year.

Women who attended school often have healthier families. These women are more likely to seek medical help from clinics or doctors. Because they can read, literate women can understand a doctor’s detailed instructions and follow up for help if needed. These women also can read nutritional labels and provide their family healthy meals that promote growth and lower cholesterol.

As their families are healthier, so is the mother. She is less likely to be a young mother since she stayed in school and will have better-spaced pregnancies that are healthy for her body. The World Bank determined that each year of school prevents 2 maternal deaths out of 1000 women each year.


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