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IF WOMEN ARE THE BACKBONE OF SOCIETY, WHY NOT EDUCATE THEM?

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“Education is a basic human right as proclaimed in article 26 of the United nation’s Universal Declaration of human rights: everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.” (http://www.un.org/overview/rights.html)

Education is accessible in Jamaica, but how many are able to afford the expenses associated with it. Been a teacher in the high school system in Jamaica, this something I hear every time a student is absent from school “ miss my parents had no money” . And I can tell you that my brighter girls are mostly absent from school due to lack of funds, whenever, I speak with parents of these girls, it is quite clear that their parents are unemployed or doing inconsistent jobs. It’s a sad and tearful reality that I have to face on a daily basis. The main barriers that prevent girls in my community and girls whom I teach from accessing education are:
1. Financial constraints
2. Failure to understand the value of education
3. Teenage pregnancy

Financial constraints

Education is accessible to both sexes in Jamaica as long one is able to afford it. However, as primary and secondary schools the cost are partly subsides by our government. But many have difficulties paying the rest. Many families in my community are single parent families with more than two children where mothers have inconsistent minimum wage jobs. It’s very expensive for parents of girls to pay fare, to afford lunches, to afford supplies for school and health maintenance for girls.

Failure to understand the value of education ( Self Esteem issues)

I have also observed that most of the poorer girls in my community seem not to understand the value of education, they tend to assume that education, ‘school’ they often refer to it has, are for wealthy people and always tend to underestimate themselves by thinking they are mentally incapable of completing schools. Most girls are prey to older men, and many often run away from their families to live with older men, who often impregnate them and use then as sex slaves who then become victims of violent abuses and sexual transmitted disease. They often tend to seemly believe that they will not be better than what they are now, so there is no need to try for a better living. A lot then are missed informed and some are completely oblivious of the resources available to them due to been unexposed beyond the community and so they are unable to think beyond.

Teenage pregnancy

As a result of not been able to attend school, failure to understand to value of education and lack of proper resources, such as lack of proper role models and someone to talk to them about sex and the changes that their body goes through, how to deal with the opposite sex, self-esteem issues, been preys to older men, peer pressure and parents who work or “hustle”. Many of the girls tend to drop out of school full time, despite the opportunity to go back to school after pregnancy, but this then restarts the cycle of poverty, lack of understanding and teenage pregnancy. However, a lack of family support seems to be the main problems in many homes in my community that causes them to be scared and extremely vulnerable.

Solutions

The solutions to reducing barriers to girls’ education are, simply in speech, but takes strong people to carry out
1. Have community gender workshops.
2. Advocate for free education
3. Talk to girls
4. I am the solution

Knowledge is power, and with this in mind my community needs workshops that will provide girls with information about contraceptives, provide mentorship programmes, and teach how to access resources about scholarships. In general, provide then with information about how to use the information. For a country to develop they should invest in education at all cost, they should invest in girls and at large young people on a whole. We should encourage advocacy, silence cannot save us and will not solve the problems. Talk to girls! They have the answers. Let us never forget that the issues are about them and they should and must play an integral part in the solution process. Last but not least me, I play a crucial role in the development of girls, I should use my voice to aid more representing girls issues. I am a woman, who was a girl, who witnessed and went to through the troubles of been a girl. I have seen and I am a testimony of what education can do for women. Educate a woman and she will change the world.

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

Leedjia's picture

great post!

Thank you for sharing, I believe this is very true, all over the world, and we are as you state, part of the solution!
I wonder if there were some way to harness technology as a means for filling in the gap when they are not able to be at school- could a force of possibility take place, changing the norms? You are so right that girls themselves have the answers, deep within their souls, needing to be nourished, and able to bloom.

Khaiwana's picture

Yes Women are very intuitive,

Yes Women are very intuitive, and we have the answers deep within us. However, we need to reach the stage where we see ourselves as the main part of the solution.

Khaiwana's picture

Thank you

Yes Women are very intuitive, and we have the answers deep within us. However, we need to reach the stage where we see ourselves as the main part of the solution.

Latty's picture

I am the solution

I believe that to make the change, the solution begins with those who understand, have seen and have the ability and the agent to be that change that will make the difference.

libudsuroy's picture

Hi, Khaiwana, thank you for

Hi, Khaiwana, thank you for pointing out how we women are truly part of the solution and resolution of problems. You have outlined the many ways in which these can be concretized on the ground. Let's keep the dialogues going!

Blessings,
libudsuroy/Lina Sagaral Reyes
Mindanao, The Philippines

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

Falchemist's picture

Teach and you make the difference

Khaiwana,
I know how frustrating it can be to watch girls you teach fall away and off track. Jamaican women are among the strongest, most resourceful women I know, so go act on your belief that you are the solution. One of my students in a course I taught in China told me that "Teachers influence eternity."
Go be the very best teacher you could possibly be and you will certainly make a difference, whether you see it or not.

Khaiwana, you have put so much good thinking into this issue and your commitment to doing something about it is beautiful. I really appreciate how you put this piece of writing together--you start with a UN quote about the goal, you analyze the 3 essential problems for girls, and then you list and talk about the solutions that you see. Plus, your last paragraph is the most powerful for me and that is a great way to finish. Yes, I agree, let's "talk to the girls"--they each have a contribution to make and in recognizing their potential, we honor them, it also supports their self esteem, I think that you must be your girls' favorite teacher! Thank you for sharing your experience--you ARE being the solution.

Lorraine Cook

Together let us create "an environmentally sustainable, spiritually fulfilling, socially just human presence on the planet" now.

Beverly Rose's picture

answers

Dear Khaiwana,

What a wonderful advocate you are! Thank you for sharing this excellent essay: You not only described the challenges and barriers but offered practical solutions. Yes, education is a basic human right, but the world often has not always applied that to girls/women. Perhaps the males in power are afraid that your concluding remark is true: "Educate a woman and she will change the world". I know it's true, and we are being educated and we are changing the world!

Please continue to advocate, to educate, and to share your stories.

In peace,
Beverly

Good question Khaiwana. There shouldn't be any excuse not to educate girls. And they should be educated in Mathematics like you, in the sciences, in engineering, in technology and not to be confined to the caregiving careers of nursing, education, social work and the like. Girls should be given a chance to study what they like.

You have laid out the barriers to education and discussed the solutions. And to me. the best solution is the last one. Every girl and women should believe that they can do something to improve themselves, their families and communities. And the way to do that is through education.

Together we should sing, "get up, stand up, stand up for your rights".FYI Bob Marley's music, your country's most famous export is a favorite of the youth in the Philippines.

Good luck Khaiwana.

SamanthaKeller's picture

Number 4

4. I am the solution

That was my favorite part! I think that is the right attitude to have, it is tragic to me that girls do not believe they are smart enough to attend school because they are told that. Everyone s capable of attending school! I also think that you have the right idea is stopping the cycle of teenage pregnancy and poverty by first education women on contraceptives and their sexual rights.

Thank you for speaking up and offering solutions as well as spreading awareness,

Samantha

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