Girls still face more barriers to education than boys

 

by Thur Lan Nguyen

Parents and students are still adapting to ever-changing education during this COVID-19 pandemic, but there are pre-existing concerns that still have to be addressed.

Worldwide, women and girls face more barriers to education than their male peers. In countries across the globe, the cost of school is one of the main reasons girls can't get to school. School fees, uniforms, books and transportation can be too expensive for many families facing poverty. Young girls also often contribute to the income of many families, working in markets and working domestic chores for other families. 

 

Another barrier is child marriage. UNICEF, or the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund, says in sub-Saharan Africa, four out of every 10 girls was married under the age of 18. In South Asia, 30 percent of girls under 18 are child brides. 

 

Many children across the world also face gender-based violence. The Global Partnership for Education says at least 246 million boys and girls are impacted by school-related, gender-based violence. Girls are disproportionately affected as many face sexual harassment, rape, coercion, exploitation and discrimination, often traveling to and from school and at school at the hands of teachers, staff and peers.

 

Here in the United States, where some of those previously mentioned barriers may not exist, girls still face other issues inside the classroom. 

"One thing we've seen is the rise of dress codes in school and disproportionate enforcement of them against women and girls. For example, the dress codes will target items worn by girls like tank tops or leggings and then girls are forced to miss education time," explained Ria Tabacco Mar, the Director of the Women's Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union.

 

There are recent instances of dress codes targeting only female students, like in Atlanta where several girls were dress coded for wearing shorts while temperatures were in the high 90s. Parents have petitioned school boards to reconsider their regulations because they unfairly target girls. In a school assignment, girls were told to dress more femininely to please men.

 

She says it's even tougher for girls of color because they're disciplined more than their peers. A New York Times analysis found that Black girls are five times more likely than their white classmates to be suspended at least once from school and three times more likely to get referrals to law enforcement. 

"Black girls are subject to double stereotypes, based on gender and race. The same behavior another student may be able to engage in may be dismissed as child's play or not as serious, but when it comes to Black girls, it's perceived as hypersexual or hyper criminal," Tabacco Mar said.

 

She says the way we fix this, the way we can make education the focus and not body-shaming or discrimination, is to reform school policies to be more equal. We can also push administrators to find alternatives to discipline that aren't detrimental to classroom education time, which would benefit the relationship between educators, administrators and students.

 

Read original article at WTSP.

7 Inspiring Champions of Girls’ Education in Africa

 

by Aaron Rakhetsi

Girls’ education is much more than just education, it is a transformation for the world. Girls’ education is a vital way of transforming lives, not just for the girl herself but for her family and community too, and for the world at large. 

Yet, according to UNICEF, 132 million girls are out of school globally, including 34.3 million of primary school age, 30 million of lower-secondary school age, and 67.4 million of upper-secondary school age. In countries affected by conflict, girls are more than twice as likely to be out of school when compared to girls in peaceful areas.

 

Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing inequalities globally, and this goes for education too. Around the world, some 1.5 billion learners have had their education disrupted by the pandemic — with schools for over 168 million children having remained closed for almost a whole year.

 

There are many factors that come into play when it comes to girls' education, poverty being a significant factor as it often determines whether a girl will have access to education and be able to finish her studies. Menstruation too keeps many girls out of school, due to a lack of access to sanitary towels meaning girls often miss school when on their periods. 

 

Having access to education also helps ensure a girl’s safety, with an out-of-school girl being much more susceptible to issues like child marriage, early pregnancy, and forced labor.

 

As Education Cannot Wait’s Madge Thomas told Global Citizen: “There’s also the importance of reaching kids with the services they need; whether it’s the things they normally get in school like mental health support, food and nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene.” 

 

Why Global Citizens Should Care

Access to education is a basic human right, and the United Nations’ Global Goal 4 works to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. Join us here to ensure that girls all over the world can access a quality education, and help children get back to school amid COVID-19. 

 

Around the world, activists, organizations, and more are all working to make sure that can get to, and remain in, school. Here are just some of the remarkable women who are breaking barriers across Africa to help girls reach their full potential. 

 

1. Mamokgethi Phakeng 

Mamokgethi Phakeng is the second Black woman to be vice chancellor at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, after taking on the role in 2018. At the age of 16, she enrolled at the North West University, and in 2002 she became the first Black South African woman to obtain a PhD in mathematics education. 

In 2004, Phakeng established Adopt-A-Learner trust, a nonprofit organization that provides financial support and mentorship to learners from townships and rural areas, with the sole purpose of granting them the opportunity of getting a post-matric [further education] qualification. 

She has also established the Mamokgethi Phakeng Scholarship, which is funded by 10% of Phakeng’s personal monthly salary. The scholarship aims to empower Black women in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.

On her social media pages she’s always championing for making education accessible and engaging too. Through the #MakeEducationFashionable, she has created a movement for graduates to share their uplifting end of academic journey stories and inspire people to follow suit. 

 

2. Peace Ayo

Ayo is an education activist from Nigeria. Growing up in Nigeria, she saw many children not being afforded the same opportunities that she had, nor getting the support from their parents to pursue their education that she received from hers.

Of the world’s out-of-school children, 1 in every 5 live in Nigeria — and girls face even greater obstacles in accessing school, such as child marriage, poverty, and gender discrimination, accounting for 60% of Nigeria’s out-of-school children.

So at just the age of 15, Ayo, alongside her father, co-founded Youth Advocate for Sustainable Development, with the aim of addressing the obstacles that keep girls in Nigeria out of school

The organization works with parents to make them aware of the importance of education in their children's lives and to eliminate gender biases. They also advocate for making sanitary towels free, and providing girls who are out of school with scholarships. 

 

3. Qabale Duba

The 2019 Waislitz Global Citizens’ Choice Award winner, Qabale Duba, uses education as a way to empower women and girls in Marsabit County in northern Kenya. Growing up she was forced to undergo FGM and was enaged to be married, but her passion and support from her mother made her determined to finish school. 

Duba went on to found the Qabale Duba Foundation, a community-based organization that champions the rights of women and girls. In 2017, they started a community literacy program, to teach women how to write and read. 

During that program they also educated women on their sexual reproductive health and rights and the importance of economic empowerment. In 2018, they started Torbi Pioneer Academy, to help with children whose parents cannot afford to educate them, where they currently have 68 children in their nursery school.

 

4. Noushka Teixeira

Noushka Teixeira is from the Democratic Republic of Congo, but she was forced to leave her country as a child because of conflict. Upon her return to Congo in 2004, she witnessed a high number of children in the streets of her native city Kinshasa. When she saw girls pregnant as young as 10, she decided it was high time she did something to help the situation. 

In 2010, Teixeira opened Matumaini Centre, a place where young girls are kept off the streets and are able to receive education and a safe home. Matumaini Centre also helps with reintegration of children living on the streets into the community.

The centre's shelter, which opened in September 2011, is currently home and school to 34 girls aged between five and 16.

 

5. Nomzamo Mbatha

Nomzamo Mbatha is a South African actress, businesswoman, and UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador. In 2018, she completed her Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Cape Town after she had dropped out in 2012 due to financial reasons, but returned determined to finish her education. 

In February 2020, Mbatha joined forces with the Cotton On Foundation, becoming an ambassador for the foundation, which delivers education projects for children in South Africa, Uganda, Thailand, and Australia. 

Meanwhile, through her initiative The Lighthouse Foundation, Mbatha also put R1 million (about $65,400) towards helping children pay for school and school supplies, through a partnership with Hollywood Bets, earlier this year. The money donated is to help provide bursaries to students who need financial help for tertiary education. She further pledged to donate school supplies to schools across the country. 

 

6. Zuriel Oduwole

Nigerian-American filmmaker and activist Zuriel Oduwole began her work as an activist while she was still in school, inspired after creating a documentary for a school competition. 

At the age of just 10, in 2013, she launched her “Dream Up, Speak Up, Stand Up” campaign with the purpose of getting more African girls into school — and was highlighted by Forbes magazine the same year. At the age of 12, she featured on a list of “33 Women Who Changed the World” by Elle Magazine, and at 14, she was honored by US Secretary of State John Kerry. 

As well as her work on education, she also focuses on climate change, and how climate change will impact the future of girls’ education — including speaking on the topic in front of world leaders at the COP23 climate summit.

 

7. Bonang Matheba 

Businesswoman and human rights activist Bonang Matheba has always celebrated the importance of girls' education. In 2017, Matheba launched her Bonang Matheba Bursary Fund, providing bursaries to 10 girls who wanted to pursue tertiary studies in South Africa. 

As part of the campaign leading up to Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100, hosted in Johannesburg in 2018, Matheba joined Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Global Citizens in calling for the South African government to invest in improving menstrual health for learners. In late October, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni eliminated taxes on menstrual health products, and promised to ensure girls’ access to sanitary pads in school. 

 

Read orginal article at Global Citizen.

Lessons From The Magic of Thinking Big

 

by Rebecca Olakanmi

The Magic of Thinking Big talks about the need to think positively towards oneself to attain success because success is not acquired by intelligent people but by people who believe they can succeed. The thinking that guides your intelligence is much more important than how much intelligence you have. We should believe that we can succeed because the size of one’s success is determined by the size of one’s belief.

 

We should also cure ourselves of failure diseases which are called “Excusitis” Which includes complaining or thinking negatively towards ourselves about our health, intelligence, luck, and age as the hindrance to our success.

 

We should keep or interact with friends and people that will support us because success depends on the support of other people. We should get the action habit, ideas alone will not bring success except they are acted upon. We should think like a leader by putting people first in everything we do. That is, not doing things for our benefit alone but also for the benefit of others.

 

LESSONS LEARNT FROM THE BOOK "THE MAGIC OF THINKING BIG" 

We should be creative and positive towards ourselves and others in order to succeed and be a success, not to let our setbacks stop us from becoming successful. 

Also learned to manage our environment that is, we should not move with negative thinkers but move with positive thinkers that will influence us positively, set goals on what we want to achieve, and work towards it because goals are essential to success.

 

APPLICATION OF LESSONS LEARNT 

I will surround myself with people who have real potential and people that think positively, not those that gossip. In everything we do, we should always ask ourselves do I feel guilty when I say things about other people We should set our goals by first visualizing our future in terms of three department Work, Home, and social. Give answers to these questions of what I want to accomplish with my life? What do I want to be? and What does it take to satisfy me? By acting according to these steps, there is the assurance of success and succeeding in life.

 

 

Rebecca Olakanmi hss been a beneficiary of Dream Rite SEED Scholarship program since 2018. She won the program's Scholar of the Year Award in 2020 in recognition of her excellent academic performance. She wrote this book review in 2020.

A Winning Essay For SEED Scholarship in 2018

 

by Basit Mololuwa Azeez

Everyone has dreams. Whether to become a scientist and discover new and amazing things or to become a neurosurgeon and be the highest-paid doctor, people dream about their future. I have dreams for the future just like everyone else. Dreams of the good life, with lots of money, and fast cars! And I will do whatever it takes to achieve it. College is my first step to achieve my dream. Currently, I am a student in Government Junior Model School. I do my best to keep my grades up because I know that they will help me into college. I dream of going to University to get a medical degree in medicine (Neurosurgeon).

 

After I have my medical degree, I plan to get a job working with a hospital. I hope I can lend a hand in finding new, more effective ways of operating on patients with brain issues. Outside of my job, I plan to buy a large home. I dream of settling down in an urban area, someplace that's not too big. Hopefully, by the time I get a house, I'll have a wife and can start a family. I dream of having a son to carry on the family name.

 

How would this scholarship make a difference in your life?

This Scholarship will make a difference in my life: The point of a scholarship is to allow students to focus on their studies rather than paying the bills. A scholarship can make it possible for you to concentrate on your first responsibility as a student, with a long-term payoff. Scholarships can change the course of my life, allowing me to study in other Schools and taking my life in exciting new directions.

 

Winning a scholarship can have a major impact on your educational and professional career, marking you as an outstanding candidate for advancement. Scholarships indicate that you are worthy of confidence and can be expected to perform well in competitive environments. I knew in my heart that medicine was what I was meant to do and this Scholarship enabled me to spread my wings and pursue my passion fearlessly and to move on to University, and it motivated me to focus on my studies with renewed confidence while still enjoying my life.

 

I feel right at home with my classmates and have gotten the opportunity to have fantastic conversations with them, which allows me to learn from their experiences. I believe having this scholarship it will assist my parent and bring relieve in providing to my need at school and in the aspect of the purchase of books and other materials that can facilitate easy smooth of studies. It will also give an assurance of a better tomorrow.

 

Why should you be considered for this scholarship? Why You?

Why it is me is because I believe this scholarship program is organized to support the children in learning and also to encourage and give assurance to a better tomorrow. So I believe I deserve this scholarship to make my dream come through and create an impact in the large society and save lives, I would be grateful if this opportunity is given.

Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence. Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.

 

Ambition is the path to success. Persistence is the vehicle you arrive in. Permanence, perseverance, and persistence in spite of all obstacles, discouragements, and impossibilities: It is this that in all things distinguishes the strong soul from the weak. Strength, As long as I am persistent in pursuit of the scholarship, I believe you will give me. Truly I need to be successful at winning scholarships. I refuse to believe that my persistence has paid off.

 

Thankfully, there is only one of me. This means the chances of someone entering the same scholarship application as mine is highly unlikely. It's up to me to find a way to highlight the special qualities I possess, so others see them, too. I'll try even harder to prove my persistence! Like many other students I know, but those obstacles gave me strength and helped me appreciate the truly important things in life.

 

 

Credits: Basict Mololuwa Azeez was the top winner during the selection process for the Dream Rite’s SEED Scholarship program in 2018. He was 10 years old when he wrote this essay. As at the time of this post, he is still in the scholarship program. Photo: BioEnergy Consult.

COVID-19: A Reflection From An African Student

 

by Divine Akhigbe

Towards the end of the year 2019, I made plans together with my parents for the forthcoming year. We were all delighted to be in the new year as celebrations and new year festivals began in my family and the community. On the 5th of January, the WHO made their first media publication about the Coronavirus disease in Wuhan, China, and everyone I knew was overwhelmed by the outbreak.

 

Africa in the sequence of events appeared to be the last continent hit by the pandemic. As the reports of new cases increased in all parts of the world, it resulted in agitation and fear in the minds of people and made them very cautious about their food supply and interactions with others. The citizens in my community were also sensitized about the virus, symptoms, and preventive measures through social media and various public enlightenment platforms.

 

This also affected me personally in the social and educational aspects, as well as my family and friends. In February, the first case of the coronavirus disease was recorded which sent a shock through my mind and made it obvious that I could be a victim of the virus if I didn't yield to the preventive measures of maintaining social distancing which made me disconnected from my friends. Everyone is made to be out and about and socialize with beings on Earth. This made me very lonely and restricted my movements within the walls of my house. I could only communicate with my peers and learn virtually, and it wasn't regular due to the crooked internet connection in my home.

 

On a general basis, there was a rapid decline in the accessibility of food and a price increment. People tried to stock up food supplies that will last them about a month. The starvation started increasing and the Government did little or nothing to curtail this menace. Most families couldn't even afford a three-square meal anymore. Palliatives that were assigned to be distributed to the poor and needy were hoarded by Government officials for personal reasons. Non-Governmental Organizations participated in the administration of palliatives in rural areas under strict COVID-19 guidelines and this relieved the poor from the burden of hunger. Face masks and sanitizers were also issued to the people and made their usage compulsory.

 

During the period of the pandemic, I had the chance to learn a develop a new skill online: Graphics design. I also used the opportunity to reflect more on my personal life and form stronger bonds with my family. This phase of my life was indeed an era of cleansing in all aspects. We participated in activities at home that were lucrative and self-enlightening. Generally, the virtue of self-discipline and control was indoctrinated into the masses by strict adherence to staying at home. It was a trying moment for a lot of people psychologically, but we hope that things get back to normal again.

 

 

Credits: Divine Akhigbe was one of the participants in the maiden edition of Dream Rite’s Annual Essay Competition in December 2020. This blog post is the top submission in the competition. Photo: Center for Global Development.