A study of the formal education of girls and women in Nigeria and the socio-cultural changes arising from the introduction of western-type education, with special reference to the secondary phase of education in Imo State
The introduction of formal education in Nigeria can be traced back to 1842. It is hard to accept that since then no detailed research has been carried out, in order to monitor the progress of girls and women, because of the fact that Nigeria's social structure is deeply rooted in patriarchalism. Moreover, the History of Education in Nigeria (Fafunwa, 1974), does indicate quite vividly that in the early years, girls and women were denied formal education; and even when they were allowed to go to school, obstacles (including child marriage and domestic chores), were deliberately placed in their way. There is little doubt that in a male dominated society, the role of the female members can at best be subordinate and at worst invisible. This is because in such a society, male dominance is inevitable. This is partly why within the Nigerian educational context, girls' and women's progress in the various stages should be constantly checked and reappraised through educational studies and research. The early stages, (primary and secondary), are crucially important. The secondary sector for example does affect to a large extent what an individual can or cannot do in the future by way of career. The need for progress in the early phases cannot therefore be over emphasised. The revelation, (especially in the History of Education in Nigeria), about the existence of obstacles to female education in the early years of school education should have prompted educational research, which would among other things show whether the barriers are still there and whether they affect all stages of education with equal gravity. Such studies can also reveal various types of obstacles and highlight regional variations within the Nigerian society. For instance, it will be possible to investigate whether: a. there are more female educational barriers among the Christian communities than the Islamic ones. b. whether rural girls and women face additional barriers compared with their counterparts in the urban areas. c. the studies can also show to some extent how Nigerian girls and women are faring in educational terms as opposed to their counterparts in the other developing nations and even in the developed counties - by comparing research findings. This is important because from the roles which girls and women are playing in various parts of the world, an assessment can be made, in order to establish whether or not their Nigerian counterparts are lagging behind, and if that is the case - then the best way of addressing the problem will need to be sought.