A report by the Development Research and Projects Centre (dRPC) has described as ineffective the vocational skill acquisition program offered to girls in Northern Nigeria as a pathway to empowerment, agency, and poverty alleviation in order to combat child, early and forced marriage in the region.
The report published by The Brookings Institution sought to explore the results of the six month training in the region of Nigeria where 36 percent of girls are married before they turn 15.
50 girls participated in the training organized by the Partnership for Innovation and Practice in Secondary Education (PSIPSE) in a government secondary school in Kano State. Another 50 girls displaced by insurgency participated in training and counseling organized by a non-governmental organization in Gombe State.
The research by dPRC found that the intervention failed to change the girls’ acceptance of marriage as their destiny. This was in spite of the fact that the girls in both groups acquired new skills, derived support and relief, and also learned to cope with their anxiety. It was also seen that acquiring skills does not build resilience against trauma of abduction and forced marriage due to poverty, insurgency and displacement.
According to the managing director of dRPC, Judith Ann-Walker, “Many gender experts and donors assume that acquiring skills will generate income and that increased income will build girls’ resistance against child, early, and forced marriage.
“However, the fact that these skills programs are not evaluated, coupled with the absence of curriculum standardization in the government and donor programs offered, results in interventions with no verifiable evidence of effectiveness.”
dRPC observed the need for strong guidance and counseling units within schools. It also noted the need for access to capital, markets and mentorship without which the skill acquisition program will fail to achieve its goal.
The report therefore recommended that skill acquisition be made a unit of a wider program designed to empower these girls.