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My Community - Barrier & Fear of Girls to Accessing education

My grandfather was exposed to education in his days as a village head and village judge. His gift of wisdom took him around and outside our community to judge and decide matters concerning his people and others where he met with Europeans and their interpreters. The power my grandfather witnessed, in his dealings with them, made him vow to send his male children to school. My parents left our community to live in an urban city which gave my siblings and I better opportunity at education and exposure.

My birthplace is in a hilly terrain which made it one of the disadvantaged and backward areas in terms of infrastructures - socially, economically, & politically. The Roman Catholic Church brought the only existing health facility in my community. Often times my people cannot access this facility because of poverty so they rely mostly on herbs and roots for most ailments.

The culture and tradition of marrying off girl children at a very young age, (a tradition that performs a blood ritual on their wedding day that keeps them bound to the string of tradition and their husbands) restrict their bright future. These girls often times end up marrying young men with unharnessed potentials & education so they end up like their parents – illiterate and poor. We have designed programs for these girls and women on Human rights / women rights and to access adult education.

Most of my peers got married after primary school because of poverty and for the fact that my community does not see education as a way to a brighter future. Most of those that proceeded to secondary school could not finish because of funds. Majority of our parents are illiterates and subsistent farmers (which unfortunately is the only trade my community know) so illiteracy is re-cycled. The designed program is to expose them to different skills to empower them economically.

Lack of mentorship is a major reason why unintended pregnancies are too numerous because once they are with child; it is assumed that they have no further use of education and most of these deliveries are taking by Traditional Birth Attendance. My organisation has made plans for resources persons to have participatory interaction with them on self confidence, self esteem and sex education.

Lack of family planning adds to the backwardness of my people. An average woman has 8 to 9 children thereby making it more difficult to cater for them. They are not exposed to reproductive health education and counseling. Family planning counseling for those within the child bearing age is in the program designed, the use of condom will be emphasised for those that cannot abstain.

Bullying and name calling (my little daughter is passing through that now in the hands of the senior girls and her class mates, which makes her cry and keep saying she does not want to be in school again) forms another serious barrier for girl children. So many do not have the courage to stand up for themselves especially if the name calling has to do with their female physique - you are as flat as a book.

Our culture’s lack of respect for women forms part of the reason why young girls cannot access education. Girl children are seen as nothing, therefore when opportunities of going to school come out, it is always the boys that are favoured. Male children are tutored from the onset of their importance in the society whereas the girls are only taught how to manage homes and be submissive to their husbands.

To sum it up, the greatest challenge of young girls in accessing education is poverty(economic constraints) and culture - which offer early marriage as the only and best option for them. Few families who live in the urban cities who are a bit economically stable, have been able to train their girl children in school though not all of them went to the university.

The impact of these barriers have made my community very backward, lacking and lagging behind in all aspect of life. The cultural aspect - the blood ritual performed during weddings are only done on the girl which restricts her to only her husband. Any time she compromises with another man, there will be a cleansing ritual as antidote to supernatural repercussion the person is supposed to face. The fear, shame and stigma that is associated to this aspect of life puts a lot leach on girls as they fear that those who are educated falls easy prey to other men which of course is a big fallacy.

These programs designed have not taking off completely because of funds and volunteers who can assist without being paid. We have not given up so we hold short interactive sessions whenever we have the opportunity.

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.
Learn more »


bhavna's picture

Ah the fallacies!

Dear otahelp,

Nice piece! The fallacies associated with girls education has always been the biggest barrier to be overcomed! The first female Indian teacher Savitri Bai Phule, in 1848 was abused in obscene language and was stoned as well as cowdung was thrown on her, because she had started a girl school and campained against cruel social practices. At that time it was believed that if a women learns to write, those letters will become worms and fall in their husbands food! She had to fight such absurd fallacies then!
Keep doing the good work
Best wishes

Taha Mirani's picture


Good read. Loved the courage you posses, masha'Allah. Justice will be done. All the barriers that stand like demons in our way today will soon perish.

Keep up the good work. Keep writing.

Wish you the best.


Taha Mirani

nifkinz's picture

This was an interesting read!

This was an interesting read! I like that you incorporated some of the psychological barriers for girls in schools as well. The bullying and the name calling that can weaken a girl's resolve and make her wish to not return to school. It is disheartening the obstacles that they face. Keep up the good work! You are very courageous indeed!

Becky Frary

otahelp's picture

thank you Becky

You are appreciated for you kind words.


Our Lady of Perpetual Help Initiative
Lets keep the light shining

adeakins's picture

Don't Give Up

Even though funds may not be there, will is one of the most important driving factors in keeping the education alive. I can see by reading your entry that you most certainly have a lot of will, and you will not relent in spreading your message. Your road has been, and will be, a difficult one to travel - but you have done so with grace and fortitude!


Dear sisternice to get to be here and read your post, you have good ability in finding words to discribe your community.
Wish you luck finding grat fo the programm and you keep trying.

It is never too late to try make your way to your dream and left up your expectation.
Sudanes Women Building Peace

otahelp's picture

thanks ola

thank you for finding my post interesting and good.

i appreciate the encouragement

Our Lady of Perpetual Help Initiative
Lets keep the light shining

Potter's picture

Well Done!

You have written a great article. I enjoyed the personal notes you added for example the story of your grandfather and the description of your birthplace. The strongest statement (and also the most direct) is "illiteracy is recycled." Yes! That is so wise! Keep working to implement your program. Your efforts and voice are so needed! I'm cheering for you...can you hear me?

otahelp's picture

Yes i hear you

Thank you Potter. i hear you loud and clear. I am happy you were able to make out time to read my post and very happy you also commented. I rely on all of us here to be able to accomplish this feat. i posted on the resources exchange for our needs and i hope that we get support soon to assist us.

thank you and best regards

Lets keep the light shining

Our Lady of Perpetual Help Initiative
Lets keep the light shining

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