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Why am I not in school too?

Pijinu dressed for school

Pijinu was born and spent her early years in a village called Bambalang in the North Western region of Cameroon. Like other girls at five years old, she was entrusted with the daunting task of caring for younger children. She always admired how other kids, dressed in their uniforms walked to school every morning. She wanted to be like them but no one would send her to that place where the other kids went. She was to remain at home, feed babies, rock them to sleep and change their nappies when the need arose. She carried out her tasks judiciously but lacked fulfillment.

One day, she picked up an old piece of a writing board in the compound where she lived, put it on her head and started running, following other pupils to school. She forced herself to school. It was this act of rebellion that caused her maternal aunt (whose children she cared for) to reluctantly register her at the government primary school in Bambalang. She was given just one school uniform that eventually got torn due to frequent washing. However, with her worn out uniform, bathroom slippers and a damaged bag (which her great grandmother picked up for her) she rocked her way to school with joy.

Pijinu is my brother-in-law's daughter. When my husband and I heard her story, we decided to become her sponsors. So she came to live with us as our first daughter. Today, she is thirteen years old, in Grade 6 and will soon be writing the Common Entrance and First School Leaving Examinations. From not being able to spell her own name she is now an ardent reader and is always among the best three pupils in her class. She hopes to be an international fashion designer in future. Without this education she would have by now been married. Unlike other girls in her class, she is already full breasted, looking more mature yet she thrives on. I hope to put more smiles on the faces of girls like Pijinu.

In most villages in Cameroon, when girls do not go to school, they get married early. Most of them migrate to urban areas to acquire an education. I remember how my aunt always complains: “If not of my father, I would have been an intellectual!” She loves to speak English instead of the colloquially spoken Pidgin English. She constantly regrets the fact that she never went to school. She was born in the era when one could count the number of fathers who sent their daughters to school. With the natural charisma she possesses I have no doubt that she would have been in the high places of society. But illiteracy remains a barrier. However, Aunty Salome has lived her dream through her three children who are all girls. She sent all of them to school and today they are all in successful careers.

There is a plethora of reasons why girls in Cameroon do not go to school. Some are hindered by early pregnancy. They get involved with boys who put them in the family way. They are then forced to drop out of school to care for their babies. Some are forced into early marriages. So their focus tilts towards managing their homes. Some parents especially in the rural areas simply see sending a girl to school as waste of money. To them it is “tilling another man's farm.” In the Northern part of Cameroon among the Hausas, access to education is still a big issue for girls. Women are still largely seen as baby producing factories. Despite all these, poverty is the greatest challenge. Some parents simply cannot afford it. Even though primary education in public schools in Cameroon is free, parents still need to sew uniforms and buy books. To some in my highly impoverished community, this is a huge bone in their throats.

Money indeed answers everything. If free uniforms, books and other school needs are provided for the girls especially in the rural areas, many more girls will be educated. The community should be continuously taught through the media of mass communication on the essence of educating the girl child. We have lost a lot of great female minds because they were not sent to school. Further loss will be prevented if EVERY and I mean EVERY girl goes to school.

This story was written for World Pulse’s Girls Transform the World Digital Action Campaign.

World Pulse believes that women's stories, recommendations, and collective rising leadership can—and will—bring girls greater access to education which will transform their lives, their families, and communities. The Girls Transform Campaign elicits insightful content from young women on the ground, strengthens their confidence as women, and ensures that influencers and powerful institutions hear their stories.
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Comments

Sharontina's picture

Vision

Hi dear,
i appreciate your vision of educating Pijinu and the girls near you which is the real need, which will change the world.
Keep sharing

Love

Merlin Sharontina

Precious M's picture

Dear Sharontina...

You are always so sweet with your comments, encouraging me to move on. Girls really need to go to school. The difference is clear when a girl who could previously not spell her name becomes literate. I ill keep sharing as lon as there is life within me.

My pen speaks

libudsuroy's picture

Dear Precious, what a

Dear Precious, what a life-saving gesture! Adopting your niece has assured her move from being someone's possession to possessing her own life. May your decision become a spark of hope and compassion among others in your community to share their resources with those who are in need.

Blessings,
libudsuroy/Lina Sagaral Reyes
Mindanao, The Philippines

''Every Day is a Journey and the Journey itself is Home.'' (Matsuo Basho)

Precious M's picture

Fulillment

Dear Libudsuroy.

Real fulfillment in life comes when we put smiles on the faces of other people. I hope to do it again and again. I really appreciate the fact that you read my article and left a beautiful comment.

Thanks sister!

With love,

Precious

My pen speaks

Precious M's picture

Fulfillment

Dear Libudsuroy.

Real fulfillment in life comes when we put smiles on the faces of other people. I hope to do it again and again. I really appreciate the fact that you read my article and left a beautiful comment.

Thanks sister!

With love,

Precious

My pen speaks

Hesychia's picture

Generous!

Your story shows your generosity ~ without which Pijinu may not have gotten as far in her education! It is that incredible gifting that will continue to help and encourage the girls of the next generation. Continue to bring hope and education to the girls of your community.

Blessings ~
Hesychia

Precious M's picture

I will

I will continue to bring hope and education to the girls in my community in EVERY way I can.

Thanks Hesychia.

Love
Precious

My pen speaks

CamilaFMScialla's picture

A Powerful Example

Precious, that's really wonderful of you and your husband to take your niece in and help her go to school. Education is incredibly important and it's true that if more girls went to school there would be less girls getting married and having children at a young age. This is an amazing story that shows how important it is for us all to be resources to others and help where it is needed. Thank you for your beautiful words.

Camila

Precious M's picture

Camila, Thank you for the

Camila,

Thank you for the encouraging me with your words.

One of Pijinu's mates whom she knew while she was in the village is already married! That tells us where she would have been if she did not go to school. It is a privilege for me to be able to help others.

Best regards,
Precious

My pen speaks

Riya's picture

Great Work.

Dear Precious M,

I am glad Pijinu is in School and doing well..just thinking about her getting marriage that young and bearing many children gives me a chill. However, there are many young girls do not have a choice. I could not agree with you more, we need to educate families and societies about the importance of educating girls. I believe there is an African saying, "If you educate a man, you educate an Individual,but if you educate a woman, you educate a nation" and the saying implies anywhere in the world. I wish there are more people like you and your husband who understand the importance of education and do whatever they could to help someone. Giving someone opportunity is the best way of empowering anyone.

Thank you very much for your post. Please keep good work going.

Riya

Precious M's picture

I'm glad too

Dear Riya,

I am glad too because she now has a better life. You are right. When you educate a woman, you educate a nation because the woman will greatly impart the society with that education. Many more girls out there like Pijinu need help.

Thank you so much for reading and blessing me with your words.

Best regards,
Riya

My pen speaks

Anna V's picture

A very strong girl

I was struck by how strong Pijinu is in your eyes. If only all girls could have someone who sees that spark in them! She is indeed fighting for what she wants, and I understand how you feel when you see her smile, knowing that you have helped her to stand where she is.

Here in our schools, we do not have to buy uniforms or books, but I can imagine the added burden that would be on an impoverished family. I would be interested in what your thoughts are about how to help with the early marriage and early pregnancy issues.

Thank you for sharing!
Anna

Precious M's picture

Books and uniforms are a big deal

Dear Anna,

To some parents here, getting books and uniforms is really a big difficulty. Your community is lucky to be free from the need to buy books and uniforms.

Concerning early marriage and early pregnancy issues, sensitization helps a lot. Parents and girls should be taught through the media on the need to avoid early marriages and pregnancies. They should be made to see them as drawbacks to development. I also think governments should sanction those who give their children into marriage before the stated legal age. In this way, these vices will be curbed.

Thanks for your lovely comment.
Precious

My pen speaks

Precious M's picture

Books and uniforms are a big deal

Dear Anna,

To some parents here, getting books and uniforms is really a big difficulty. Your community is lucky to be free from the need to buy books and uniforms.

Concerning early marriage and early pregnancy issues, sensitization helps a lot. Parents and girls should be taught through the media on the need to avoid early marriages and pregnancies. They should be made to see them as drawbacks to development. I also think governments should sanction those who give their children into marriage before the stated legal age. In this way, these vices will be curbed.

Thanks for your lovely comment.
Precious

My pen speaks

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