Joseph Adata D.

Department of Curriculum and Instruction,
Faculty of Education, University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State






Education is a life-long process through which individuals (male & female) acquire the relevant skills and knowledge which enable them to be useful to themselves and the society. Education is an instrument for change, for transforming individuals, solving personal & societal problems. It is a rostrum on which progress and development stand, everyone, male or female should be given equal access to functional educational progammes. It is the acquisition of skills and knowledge not directed to a specific job or vocation. It is the process of learning and acquiring skills, value and knowledge for person and national development. Education through functional educational programmes is a major way of empowering members of the society especially the youths, more specifically the girl-child to enable her take her rightful position and fulfill her role in the ever changing society. In view of this, the paper tries to explain functional curriculum. It explains why the girl-child needs functional education. The paper explains the challenge of developing functional educational programmes for the girl-child. The paper concludes with recommendations on how to empower/transform the girl-child in overcoming the challenging of 21st century.


The girl-child is seen as a young female child. This young girl has suffered untold discrimination among her male (boy child) counterpart from the earliest stages of life through her child-hood up to adulthood. According to Beijing Platform for Action (1995) Paragraph 259, it is stated that in some areas of the world, men outnumber women by 5 in every 100. The reason for this discrepancy include harmful attitudes and practices such as female genital mutilation, son preference, early marriage, violence against women, sexual exploitation, sexual abuse leading to unwanted pregnancy, discrimination against girls in food allocation and other harmful practices relating to health and well-being. As a result, fewer girls than boys survive into adulthood. Women can only save themselves the trouble of agonizing under this oppressive yoke if they have functional educational programmes.
There is therefore the need to do a rethink as regards the issues of the proper implementation strategies for women empowerment through functional education especially for the girl-child. This will enable the Nigerian women move to the future with their counterparts from other parts of the world in terms of acquisition of functional education.
Women in every country form a very substantive percentage of the total population. Nwagbara (2003) estimates that out of the 88.514 million (1991 Census) of Nigeria’s population, 44.053 million are women; invariably this is half of the nation’s population. These women, the girl-child inclusive are expected to be part and parcel of the efficient and effective running of the country. Basically, the major vehicle that will propel the women (the girl-child) is functional education programmes.
Our educational system right from kindergarten to the university as observed by Gbamanja (1997) had largely been theoretical, and academic, mostly elitist ornamental, examination-oriented and certificate motivated. We concentrate upon and emphasize on the cognitive and pay little or no attention to the affective and psychomotor domains of knowledge. We teach students what to kno0w rather than how to know. The products learn to memorize with little or no real understanding and appreciation, thereby producing scientists who cannot detect a minor fault in their cars.
Obanya (2004) explains that although some innovations and reforms have been introduced into the education system, yet the positive impact has not yet been that evident, as testified by the following well-known features of the nation’s education paradox:


– The gap between educational intentions and realizations is still ide
– More money is said to be voted for education, but the sector is still severely underfunded.
There are more children in school, but coverage is still inadequate and uneven, while efficiency and quality have not showed any encouraging signs.
Alkali (2008) laments that some of our university graduates are seen today roaming about in our streets with no jobs after graduation, this is an indication that our education curricula at all levels are shallow. Our educational contents are extremely narrow and restrictive in outlook with curriculum. Invariably, Educational Programmes with such anomalies can never be called functional education.
The functional education is the type of curriculum programme that enables one or a nation to contribute to the world pool of knowledge, ideas, inventions, and human and financial capital. It is educational programmes that will enhance personal development for contribution to social transformation: a variety of core skills for lifelong learning, vocational awareness/vocational activities, entrepreneurship creativity, communication and interpersonal conduct, self-awareness, etc.
Education has always been the instrument with which society ensures the intergenerational transmission of cultural heritage. That cultural heritage has always included functional education, the innate abilities and the inculcation of the functional skills needed for fitting the young into society. (Obanya 2004:31-32)

Concept of Curriculum Functional Curriculum
Curriculum is defined by Obanya (2004) as a body of knowledge, skills, values and attitudes consciously and systematically promoted under the guidance of educational institution, with a view to achieving the educational goals decided by a society.
Curriculum is seen by Edozie (2008) as organized learning experiences guided by the school system to develop individuals appropriately in the three domains of learning namely; the cognitive, psychomotor and effective domains. Curriculum is defined by Mkpa (1987) I Gbamanja (1997) as the totality of experiences are given or are acquired through three major curriculum categories namely;
A Programmes of studies;
B Programmes of activities;
C Programmes of guidance.
Programmes of studies include all the academic school subjects such as, Mathematics, Science and Geography etc.

Programmes of activities refer to all activities that are capable of enhancing the academic experience of students which consist of all non-academic activities, considered not just as extra-curricular, but as genuinely educational, such as games, recreation, club activities ~ choir excursions, etc.
Programmes of guidance include all the strategic service that are self guidance, services planned to help students through guidance and counseling include guiding them to pursue a certain specific desirable behavior or leading to certain specific goals or career, etc.
Curriculum is defined by Akuma and Oteh (2010) as those subjects that are most useful for living in contemporary society. It includes the totality of learning experience provided to students.

What then is functional curriculum?
Functional curriculum is defined by Mbachu (2011) as the curriculum that prepares people, the girl-child inclusive for career. Functional curriculum is an activity based curriculum. It is curriculum for skills development. It is a curriculum for gainful engagement. Offorma (2005) explains that a functional curriculum is a curriculum that creates wealth. It is curriculum that equips one to survive in a highly competitive world. Nafisatu (2008) explains that functional curriculum is a conceptualized alternative curriculum designed to teach students, the girl-child inclusive skills which will allow them to function as competent and accepted adults.
Functional curriculum is a curriculum designed and provided to develop individual on the skills, attitudes, competences, beliefs and perspective of conceiving, planning, stating and managing an enterprise for sustained benefits. Functional curriculum is a curriculum that prepares students with relevant life skills and mind-set which will provide anchorage for them as they wade through the tidal waters of life. Functional curriculum is a curriculum programmes aimed at inculcating in the students the spirit and discipline of enterprise and entrepreneurship.
Functional curriculum is a curriculum that enables an individual or a nation meets up with scientific technological changes that are taking place at neck-breaking speed as put by Obanya (2004). It is the type of curriculum programme that transforms and equips one to tackle the challenges of the rapidly changing internal and external environments.

Why the Girl-Child needs Functional Educational Programmes
A nation that fails to ensure the full empowerment and transformation of women and girls through education as observed by Obanya (2004) will very likely be a classical case of:
? More and worse forms of illiteracy and ignorance.
? Enormous loss of talent and human potentials that could have been developed and harnessed for development.
? Continued socio-economic and political marginalization of half of the country’s population and consciously cursing the next generation.
Boys and men do need education as much as women and girls. However, women and girls have been the victims of neglect for too long and are in dire need of educational surgery to ensure our continued survival. Obanyda attests that a much larger population of women and girls are being threatening the nation’s harmonious development.
Education for women and the girl-child, as envisaged by EFA (Education for all) is aimed at reversing the trend of extreme poverty in half the country’s population by ensuring their full empowerment in the true sense of raising their status in the following dimensions:
? Psychological-building and enhancing their self-awareness and self esteem.
? Intellectually-awakening and sustaining reasoning and knowledge acquisition skills.
? Technically- inculcating in them a variety of socially-ensuring that they use their newly acquired knowledge, skills to serve society better and to push for social equality and recognition.
? Economically- enhancing their productivity in the economic sense as well as enhancing their income earning capacity.
? Politically- ensuring that they too can be seen and heard, that their civil rights are recognized as essential human rights, that they also become fully involved in decision –making at all levels.
? Women need encouragement by ways of education in order to do their jobs better. Nwagbara (2003) explains that it is only when women and the girl-child are educated improved their understanding of the intricacies of life. Functional education therefore is needed by women as explained by Nwagbara (2003) in order to:
? Reduce women’s workload.
? Make them aware of their women’s rights as well as human rights.
? Increase the involvement of women in decisions that affect them domestically, locally, nationally and even internationally.
? Improve the organization of women at all levels.
? Encourage female cohesion or banding and changing the stereotypical image of women.
? Improve women’s knowledge and self-consciousness
? Fight against violence and sexual abuse on women
? Engender self-confidence and self-fulfillment. As explained by obanya (2004:23)”
Development becomes endangered if it is engendered”. Invariably, Nigeria as a nation surely needs to engender its development, talking the engendering of education as a starting point in view of the centrality of the human person to all meaningful programmes of development.
Obviously, education for women and the girl-child when considered from the full empowerment perspective has the following advantages:
? Self-improvement – intellectual, psychological, technical, socio-economic and political dimension of full empowerment, through functional education, the possibility of these will lead to an improved quality of life.

Challenges for developing functional educational programmes for the girl-child
It is never an understatement to say that Nigeria women, the girl-child inclusive needs functional education in-order to remain relevant in the affairs of the 21st century we are in. Many issues have arisen and have constituted as challenges or impediments for women empowerment. Despite pronouncements by women’s groups worldwide for improvements in building women’s capabilities, gender gaps in entitlements continue to persist.
Gender issues emanate from discrimination which remains pervasive in many aspects of life worldwide, though the nature and extent of discrimination vary considerably across regions and countries of the world. The World Bank report as explained by Nwagbara (200’3) observes that in no region of the developing world are women equal to men in legal, social and economic. There are obviously gender gaps in access to the control of resources in economic opportunities, in power and politics. It is very obvious that in almost all the developing countries of the would, women do not have equal rights with men in political and legal equality, social and economic equality and equality of rights in marriage and divorce proceedings.
Also in the area of basic education, there is need to develop a functional education that will help in closing gaps. Mbachu (2011) agrees that it is necessary to develop a functional curriculum for the girl-child; basic education is the foundation for developing and building flexible skills for empowerment and to participate in knowledge-intensive economic activity. Those who do not have basic education may not have access to new opportunities and where there are long standing gaps in education as in the case in some states where the girl-child is denied the opportunity of the right to quality basic education as a result of early marriage, religious injunction and unwanted pregnancies.
For every woman engaged in economic activities, there are at least two Men. While there are well-known political and economical determinants of the prevalence of poverty, the case of women is usually attributed to the following factors listed by Obanya (2004)
? Lack of sufficiency or inappropriateness of education and training, a situation in which knowledge and skills are not at the level that can awaken human potential, but a level at which they can enhance human creativity and productivity.
? A disenabling socio-cultural environment which denies women a good number of basic human rights, eve to be seen or heard.
? The low social value placed on the girl-child.
? Lack of social recognition for the socio-economic and human welfare roles that women play in all societies.
? Lack of encouragement from the wilder society, particularly from the men folk, and even from the women.
? Women being over-burned by household chores, frequent child bearing and family ………………………
Ezeani (2006) categorized some of the challenges affecting the empowerment and transformation of the girl-child functional education programmes to include:
Home background, religious and cultural restrictions, social sanctions, early marriage, religious injections teenage pregnancy, economic factor, and preference to the male child in terms of quality education by parents. In some parts of the country, the girl-child education may be interrupted by her parents and be given out in marriage at a tender age in life; this is according to the demands and couture or religion.
Outside the challenge of early marriage, there is also the problem of teenage pregnancy which indeed constitutes a social problem. The moment the girl discovers she is pregnant, the interest and desire to continue her education dies off and school dropout sets in.
Government does not adequately fund gender related programmes. The educational programmes or any other meaningful programmes can effectively be implemented and its objectives achieved with proper funding. Education, as it is said is the right key that unlocks the potentials in the youths, the girl-child inclusive. Therefore, no matter how well or how functional the curriculum has been developed, if these challenges are not tackled squarely the possibility of the girl-child benefiting from such curriculum programmes remains unrealistic.
The girl-child who will definitely grow and mature into a woman has the responsibility to influence society through exemplary leadership if she is enabled. Akunyili (2006) attests that an enabled woman can aspire, attain and contribute better to national development while still carrying out the home front roles. Invariably, women are enabled when they are reasonably educated through functional educational programmes and economically emancipated. Ageing with Braide (2006), the education of a woman can lead to education of nation if the quality of education she receives is sound. Invariably, the education of a woman will lead to the education of a nation if the woman allows the education to go beyond her head to her mind and impact positively on her children and her community and her nation (Braide 2006)

The benefits of developing educational programmes for the girl-child and women in general are many. An adage says; when you educate a woman, you educate a nation, women indeed are very important in the development of any nation. To educate the woman (girl-child) and make her relevant in the development of the nation, she needs functional education. Having said this, the following recommendations are made:
1. Nigerian women who have had the opportunity to be educated
Should support girls and women to acquire functional education for development. This should be done by:
? Financially supporting as many girls as possible through school.
? Interaction with as many young girls in schools as possible by attending events organized by students, giving motivational talks and sharing experiences.
? NGOs should organize. And assist by building skills acquisition centre’s where the women especially those who are not willing to be empowered educationally, can learn skills such as sewing, soap making tie and dye, snacks, etc., to help them earn a living.
2. Formal education for women and the girl-child should be made compulsory irrespectively of the ethnic affiliations. Nwagbara (2003) advised that this should start from the cradle, that were it does not, adult education classes for women should be made compulsory
3. The school curriculum should be restructured and be made gender sensitive. Developing a functional curriculum for the girl-child will involve introducing innovative strategies in the school programmes, such innovative strategies as recommended by Braide (2006) include;
– Reviewing curricula to make it more responsive to the demands of employers, local economy and international standards,
– Providing a word-study programme that offers student the opportunity to work and earn some income while studying to enable them earn decent money for their needs,
– Providing programmes that are much more academic instruction for the students, and
– Giving the girls and the boys well the opportunity to gain practical experience relevant to their disciplines through practical experience laboratories/studio/workshop, industrial attachment, involvement in ongoing state projects related to their disciplines and participation in community based projects.
4. Guidance counselors should be employed and posted to all our secondary schools, tertiary institutions to cater for the counseling needs of the students. The students ought to be properly counseled especially on choice of career, drug abuse, extra-marital sex that can lead to unwanted pregnancy, reproductive health, self-development etc.
5. Above all, we are in computer era where the whole world has become one village; all students are to be trained to be computer literate by the end of their first year in school. These innovations will go along ay in removing some of the challenges faced by the girl-child.

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