Gender equality is, indeed, a hot topic right now and one we at Giving Africa are addressing at Bethel School in Burkina Faso.
Without basic literacy, numeracy or practical skills, let alone a complete education, women are not able to provide for themselves and their families. Denying women and girls education can also prevent them from participating in family and community discussions, which makes it harder to address the attitudes and practices that so negatively impact on their lives.*
Plan International notes there are 6 barriers for girls' entry into girls' education:
- The cost of education – Though education should be free, there are a lot of costs associated with sending children to school. The cost of uniforms, textbooks or bus fare can be too much to bear for a family living in poverty. Too often, parents choose to keep their girls at home and send the boys to school instead.
- Distance to school – In many parts of the developing world, the nearest primary school to a particular community might be a 4 or 5 hour long walk away. On top of that, girls may face dangers or violence on the long way to school, so many parents opt to keep their daughters at home and out of harm’s way.
- Violence at school – Once arriving to school, girls may face various forms of violence at the hands of teachers, peers and other people in the school environment. If parents find out school isn’t safe for their daughters, they may remove them from school.
- Gender norms – Typically, girls are asked to fetch the water, take care of their younger siblings and to help their mothers cook and clean. Due to this, girls may not have the opportunity to attend school because their contributions to the household are valued more than their personal education.
- Poverty – In many parts of the developing world, children’s health is a big concern, especially if they’re facing poverty. If there’s not enough food or sufficient clean water to keep girls nourished and healthy, they may not be well enough to attend school.
- Early marriage and pregnancy – When girls are forced to marry young, they are often pulled out of school at a very critical age in their development. The transition from primary to secondary education is key for girls to gain the life skills they need to escape the cycle of poverty. Yet, this is often the same time that many girls leave school due to early marriages or pregnancy. Girls who become pregnant are often discouraged from attending school because of the stigma surrounding them.
So what are we doing to address this?
Well, we were lucky enough to receive a donation to specifically benefit the female students at Bethel School and here is our proposal:
1. Employ a female teacher in the school not only providing a person whom the female students can relate with and look up to but also make them feel a bit more comfortable in the classroom environment. She is Maths, Physics and Chemistry. Another female teacher is teaching English.
2. We are sponsoring 8 female students through school ensuring that they complete their education
3. Providing them with additional skills such as debating which will increase their communication skills and academic performance.
4. Giving them the opportunity to meet with successful women from Burkina Faso (the Minister for the Advancement of Women and the Mediator of Faso) proving that with some hard work and dedication, women in Burkina Faso can achieve wonderful things.
The students have also contributed their own ideas so an inter-school football tournament is being set up and will take place in the second quarter of the school year.
We are delighted to be able to focus on the female students to give them much needed funds and support so they are able to achieve everything we know they are able to.
We look forward to letting you know how our female students are doing.
* as so succinctly put by the African Educational Trust