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f hope that you will not take it as a lack of modesty on my part if I say, and I do so in all humility, that one of the good qualities the Good Lord has blessed me with; and for which I am eternally grated, is that of survival in diff~lust situations and tough times.

That probably informed the decision by UWDO to invite me to share my experiences with them in their task of trying to deliberate re ,! hwrrcm rerowces d ~ s l ~ ~ m m r p e r ~ p e c r f y

cmslavivalskillsfbradolescmtgirls. Given tbkfacSIdovery seriously regard the task I have been invited to @onn this rmmingasdejavu I atm seriously wonted akmu~ ‘h:: you arc going to ‘naive” this leame today. Let me say dm some of tbe most basic sod m i v a l skills anjme will tcach are consideration and coupemion, I am &finitely going to consider our time &ns&aunts  and ampmate with the organizers, tbe guests, and the precipitants by keeping as much as possible to the point.

Let me tell you something stmightaway about rhe educational practice of artisdaring the skills needs of varying groups in socia).. They all involve the art of prediction. However,

what h a p most often is that educational theorists. most of the time, have enough sagacity to perceive the defects of the system in vogue, but not enough power to remedy them. Hence. the problem is not one of whether educational theorists know what is wing and what to do, but rather whether they have the power and resources to put in practice what they know. Here lies the p r d o s ? .

I decided to point this out early in this lecture because some  of the great educational theorists such as Socrates, Cicero,M Quintilian, Mencius, John ~ i l t d n , John Locke, Rousseau Herbert Spencer, John Dewey. and Pauli Freire. have laid out, from the beginning of educational practice, the requisite skills for the survival of the humanity and society; but all too often, people lose consciousness of them. In all, these theorists emphasize

education as a basic strategy that assures the survival of the human race. Let me now turn to the theme of the workshop.

The meaning of survival

It is not an exaggeration to say that the survival of the human race depends on the survival of adolescent girls. Survival has both literal and normative interpretations. Bhola (1990:2) discusses these two approaches to the definition of survival as follows:

Suryival means to outlast, to remain. But to outlast what physical handicap? What violation

A hman resotrrces developrnenr perspecrive 

by man or beast? What emotional or social cataclysm? What culture shock? And to remain

in what human state? At what human cost? Survival, interpreted in normative terms, is not mere existence, but a life of acceptable quality. It is more .v vthan sheer survival – a matter of a steady pulse and a regular heartbeat. It is more than mere survival – a life supported with barely enough to keep body and soul together but denied political freedom, economic fairness; social acceptance and personal fulfillment.

From the foregoing, survival as a normative ideal is the challenge. .this c~ntexts,u rvival has tq k.considered under the following- aspects: physical, economic,- social, political, and cultural.

IQ order to be able to discuss survival fiom meaningful contexts, some questions had to be asked of both adolescents and adults from various walks of life. Each question and the answers

articulated from the responses are presented qualitatively below.


Are adolescent girls at risk?

The adolescent stage is a developmental stage when a person is neither a child nor an adult. This in essence means that the adolescent is in a maturation .period of transition and transformation which prepares her for adulthood. Hence, the immaturity that is always attributed to this p u p . During this stage, maturity is best achieved through a series of structured learning experiences both in formal and non-formal learning environments.

The ultimate for an adolescent girl in our presentably s o w is brotherhood and, quite recently, a good education and a good job, aIl of which demand that these girls should be prosody poolroom a h both at home and in the school. Current ~~ do d make nae believe that the home or family and

,&. school as ..pitsently con-, and orgahd are r d s q u t Q i y ~ t 0 1 1 6 1 ~ r o l e s a n d ~ i e s a r i s ~

‘ ~ ~ . v o r ~ r , . l Beiderbecke o f Parisians adoid id fix a –

12 A h mres moues development p e ~ p e ~successful future. The saying that ‘Wm you train a woman, $M Orin a nation” is fundamental here.

The behavior of the most publicly visible groups ofb adolescent girls is common how led^^, the worry is thst mo’d times. what is seen .is contrary to socially approved and expected beta~our. Some of the social conditions and behavior patterns that ha\ e given rise to the situation where people, like members of LXDO. are women about the future of adolescents and would like ! to address the issue of teaching survival skills specially for adolescent girls need to be highlighted here.

The poverty cycle and the chain reaction it produces was identified by almost everyone consulted as one of the most important factors making for the bleak future of our adolescent -g irls. It seems to me rather strange that in a country as rich as Sigeria. which earned over $201: billion between 1970 and 1995 (\\hich is enough to give each Nigerian a per capita income in n~illions of naira) about SO per cent 01 the population live below the poverty line and have a per capita inLouie of only M395 by 1995 (World Bank. 1996).

The argument goes like this – because thc majorit> of the / population are poor and this majority are the ones who are likely to I be illiterate, poor, marginalized. and uneinplvyed in the formal economic sector they start producing ihlldren early in life and give birth to the majority of the adolescent girls whose anti-social behaviour is not hidden to us.

These poor parents cinnot train their children well enough in school; and the situation now, in the country, is that many kids who should be in school are out of school. The school is the best place to acquire the basic survival skills of literacy as well as social communication skills, social mobility, and cultural capital.

The girls from poor family backgrounds end up generally with either primary or secondary schooling. The boys from poor family backgrounds, on their own part, do not have any social capital. In recent years, the enrolment figures for boys in schools have fallen steadily so that, in some places, there is a campaign to send the boys to school. The boys chase after money instead of  social and cultural capital and the experience is that very few of them make it.

In these circumstances, the situation of the boys does not encourage the girls. Most boys who do not have a good education cannot take good care of the girls in terms of giving them something to look forward to, other than money which has to do with mere survival, social security in the sense of the feeling ,that they have or their relations or parents have power of decisionmaking or are well-placed enough that they can depend on them for social mobility and economically; and lor a break for the future.

Because of all these, adolescent girls from the majority of these poor family background-ds grow up to become less capable to enter into decent” motherhood; they are jobless, barely literate, inefficient, semiskilled, and without the kind of husbands they would have liked to be married to and with very low self-esteem and self confidence.

This cycle continues even with their own kids – and the chain reaction repeats itself from generation to generation. Another important reason why people are mowed abut the t’i~t~ire of present-day adolescent girls is because; of the pleading poverty in our society. The social clock of most adolescent girls is behind the expected M e .

The idea of a social ~rhinestone s very critical for adolescents – one expects that, other things being equal. an adolescent girl must have achieved certain things at certain stages of her life. In an ideal situation where

po\,erty and social vices are not pervasive: by the age of eighteen, an adolescent girl should either be in a tertiary institution or is acquiring \acational occupational sk& in addition to being seriously engaged in founding her own Eamily. In .o ur. prtscnt circumstances, pervasive poverty and social hwe made this kind of dream an bpssibility. So, the idea of#

social milestones for our girls a d wamcn, whereby one am sd standards for achievement and social dog mt presently exist. This leads to ,worry aeolrt th b of aur adolescent girls.

Beyond these sometimes intractable root causes of the situations that expose adolescent girls to risks, the following are also worthy of mention.

11 .4 irrmrim resources de~elopmenpt erspecrrve

0 Girls and women are vulnerable and they have to be given adequate care and extra ‘attention.

There is presently a growing. rate of infertility among young \\-omen due mainly to poor early reproductive health practices.

The rate of divorce and broken homes is high and this results iionl the poor preparation of adolescent girls for marriage. In -our wlture. the woman is the homemaker. As a result’of the

mo\ving rate of divorce. it is now well known that most of the Ltloiuishing roadside hotels are managed by divorcees.

The harsh economic conditions make parents too busy pursuing money or career goals to attend to bringing up their children well.

The socio-cultural environment does not permit sex education in secondary schoels and at home. Poor parents do not have

the means to educate their children properly and the authority. to control them.

Cases of rape are on the increase. ‘ Single motherhood, alcoholism among girls, drug addiction, AIDS and STD cases, unwanted pregnancies, abandoned babies, cases of death as a result of abortion are all on the increase.

Disobedience among girls and bad company make them desire things they cannot afford.

Girls now keep boyfriends at tender ages and are easily carried away by emotional relationships. They are also now too adventurous with boys and men (tomboyism) and also

egocentric – showing off themselves to be more noticed than others.

All these and many more contribute to make people worry about the future of adolescent girls. From the foregoing, one can see that poverty appears to be pervasive as the root cause of the social condition in which the survival of the majority of adolescent girls is threatened in our communities. My task is to put forward ‘ ideas for -the survival skills needed by these adolescent girls use generally at risk



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