Culture, a barrier to Girls' access to Education.
I grew up in a community where a girl child is looked at as a source of wealth, a girl as young as 12years old is given out to a boy or man three times her age for marriage as long as they can pay dowry. I witnessed this happen to most of the girls that I went to school with. The high levels of poverty accelerate the situation and so a parent who is faced with this challenge gives away their daughter to a boy’s family who are relatively rich. This girl leaves her parents’ home to go and live with the boy’s family. Literally she will be married because much as she may continue going to school, it will be a matter of time before she gets pregnant and eventually drops out of school or her new parents will want her to stay at home and do house chores; still she is denied the opportunity to further her education. I am thankful to my Father (RIP), who gave me the opportunity to study together with my brothers.
In the case of Gloria, it was out ignorance that she opted out of school and got married and age of 16 years because she felt left out. She portrayed signs of low self esteem because at according to her there was no way she could continue sharing a class with girls younger than her. The best was to get married, she thought. Several years down the road she had given birth to several children and the last time I met her, Gloria was full of regret and wished someone had guided her through those years.
Shared memories of the past are still alive and well in these communities, they are passed down by elders. There is need to break the strong bond of cultural bias in these communities so that all children are given equal opportunities in life. In my view, these biases have to be tackled and the only way to do this is by creating a mentorship platform at community level, covering schools. This will be at different times of the year where guidance is given to the girls. Bottom line is, give students quality guidance and achievement will follow. Also empowering girls with life skills, basic necessities like sanitary towels, books, pens etc will also help improve their lives.
Young girl accessing education in my community face barriers of intimidation from parents, ridicule from peers (boys), low self-esteem because of the negative words from society, ignorance and poverty.
I realize that to overcome intimidation, parents should be involved and made to understand that all children are gifted differently and therefore success does not depend on ones gender.
The problem of ridicule comes mostly from peers (boys), who always make fun of girls’ breasts and the changing body generally. A solution to this is through peer and sexual education, which will enlighten both sexes of changes that take place on our bodies as we pass to adulthood.
Families need to be empowered economically through income generating activities so that they can afford to send their children to school and also provide scholastic materials.
Overcoming barriers in this community has been a combined effort of stakeholders as far as girl child education is concerned. Some education providers have provided school requirements like books, pens, etc and also incorporated a free feeding program.