Education for all


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Daughter's Education: A powerfull lever for poverty reduction and Panacae for Sustainable Communities; a personal experience - From "Grass to Grace".

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Education for all

  1. 1. ‘Education for All; a Dream or Reality?’   2013    Daughter’s Education: A powerful lever for poverty reduction and Panacea for Sustainable Communities; a personal experience- From ‘Grass to Grace’. By Judith Adhiambo PeteThe paper is a reflection of the Author’s life experience as born and grown up in the rural set-upin Kenya. It discusses the challenges of daughter’s education in Rachuonyo and Suba Districts ofHoma-Bay County. It will further show –case how the author has become an agent of change inchanging the perception of parent’s towards educating daughters in the region through herinnovative initiatives geared towards promoting ‘education for all in the region’. By far andlarge, Daughters education is crucial for poverty reduction and sustainable development. Whenyou educate the woman, you educate a nation. Children look up more to their mothers as rolemodels than to their fathers and it is true that women have primary influence on their children.Therefore, uneducated women are likely to bring up poorly mannered or uneducated children.Communities that do not give adequate attention to educate the girl-child are usuallycharacterized with mass illiterates, ill equipped to deal with life situations around them as theirknowledge will be very limited thereby working against sustainable development. It is, anestablished fact that behind every successful man, there is a woman who should have alsoattained some level of education.This paper therefore sees the girl-child education very important for reducing poverty, as well asattaining sustainable development in the contemporary society. The paper begins with anintroductory highlight which show cases the author’s life experiences through her educationaljourney (as a girl in a community where boys are valued –Primary, Secondary and university)and a wife (in a community where women are entitled to occupy the husband’s office in thekitchen-Ph.D level). Her endeavors in the rural areas to advocate for education for all will also beshared. Finally, the overall concepts of the girl-child education, the importance/benefit and howthis enhances good citizenship will also be discussed in details. The challenges and strategies forimprovement will also be addressed and then a conclusion given.
  2. 2. ‘Education for All; a Dream or Reality?’   2013    Introduction:When we talk of education for everybody, it is important to recognize that the world is different forgirls than it is for boys, and any program (s) or initiative must reflect this fact if at all any bestpractices are to be realized. Discrimination on the basis of sex often starts at the earliest stages oflife, greater equality for the girl child and the adolescent girl are necessary first steps to ensuringthat women have equal rights later in life. In most of African communities, disparities in the waygirls and boys are raised and treated are at the root of many sexual and reproductive healthproblems and development challenges. For boys, adolescence can be a time for expandedparticipation in community and public life. Girls, however, experiences new restrictions, and findtheir freedom of movement limited. Socially constructed gender roles may give girls little sayabout their own aspirations and hopes, and restrict them to being wives and mothers, and Iconfirm this fact.Therefore, negative gender-based norms and practices can be gradually transformed througheducation and other processes that promote equality of girls and boys. Without such action,unequal gender relations and power imbalances are likely to persist throughout adult life.The author, through her past experiences is committed to reducing gender inequities in the livesof young girls, paying particular attention to the vulnerabilities, pressures and risks they face,especially in their educational journey (Primary through University level). This paper thereforeunderscores this journey.The author exclaimed that, “had it not been for my widowed mother who saved me from ‘them’,and instilling in me the benefits of education for girls (even though she never went to school),where would I be today? What kind of life would I be living? Would I have achieved my dream ofbecoming a Dr Judith?” Now I believe in education and all its benefits in the life of a girl andwomen in general. I have a journey to help my fellow girls out there in the rural set ups of Kenyato realize their dreams just as I did. It is a call, a responsibility and a challenge I just have totake”.It is worth noting that in Kenya, a combination of poverty, disease and backward culturalpractices continue to deny the girl child her right to education. Even with the introduction of freeprimary education, access to it still remains a pipe dream to many Kenyan children. Whereas theintroduction of free primary education last year saw an increase in the enrolment, a sizeablenumber of children, especially girls in the rural set up still find themselves out of school owing toa number of reasons.Mr Okumu J. an inspector of primary schools affirms that most girls enter school at a late agebecause of the demand for their labour in their homes such as assisting in looking after theiryoung siblings and other household chores.Gathoni, 16, had this experience to share: “I had this rare chance of going back to school wheneducation was made free. However, my dreams were cut short when my parents decided tomarry me off to their creditor without my consent. When I tried to resist, they threatened me withdeath”.
  3. 3. ‘Education for All; a Dream or Reality?’   2013    Mbula,18, “I thought of becoming a doctor but my dreams were shattered when my father, aMaasai decided to marry me off so that she could get dowry to add to his riches. At the age of12, I gave birth and almost died in the process”, she recalled bitterly. The girl, now expectingher fifth child, did not escape from poverty and her parents have nothing to show for the dowrythey received six years down the line.Some parents justify the denial of girls of their right to education to prevent them from bringingshame to the family through early pregnancy. Yet others believe that women who are at the samelevel of education as the men are a disgrace to the community because more often than not,they will not get married and if they do, it will be to a foreigner. For such parents, early marriageis the best way to prevent this and at the same time preserve traditions.The situation gets worse when a mother dies, forcing the girl to take over her responsibilities.The situation has been exacerbated by the HIV and AIDS pandemic, cancer cases, which hasforced children out of school to take up odd jobs in order to play the role of their parents.Therefore, Is Education for Everybody?Through my life experience (as a girl and now as a wife), universal education has proven to bethe most effective means of eliminating endemic poverty, and on an individual level has beenproven to be the most sustainable escape from poverty’s clutches. This is true for both womenand men, and the gains are even greater in developing countries. But throughout the developingworld, going to school is rarely free.Students are required to pay their own transportation costs, purchase uniforms, textbooks,notebooks and pencils. Children who cannot afford these basic costs cannot attend school. Asfamilies struggle to stay above the poverty line, the additional expense of school becomes anunlikely investment. Educating a daughter is therefore considered a burden. Hence in Rachuonyoand Suba Districts, Homa-Bay county, girls never sets foot in a classroom. I would therefore saythat education is NOT for everybody.Why is education important for a girl child?Education reduces child mortality: a child born to a mother who can read and write is 50% morelikely to survive past age five. Thus child vaccination rates are 19% when mothers have noeducation and 68% when mothers have at least secondary school education.Education promotes gender equality: by helping women control how many children they have.In Nairobi, women with secondary education or higher have an average of three children, whilethose with no education have an average of seven children.Education contributes to improved maternal health: women with higher levels of education aremost likely to delay and space out pregnancies, and to seek health care and support.Education helps combat HIV, malaria and other preventable diseases: In addition, it facilitatesaccess to treatment and fights against stigma and discrimination.
  4. 4. ‘Education for All; a Dream or Reality?’   2013    Education encourages environmental sustainability: It allows people make decisions that meetthe needs of the present without compromising those of future generations. Hence it is vital torethink education, curricula and teaching practice in ways that complement the drive to achievethis.Education reduces/ eliminates poverty: economists tell us that ‘one extra year of schoolingincreases a person’s earnings by up to 10-15%. Hence is all children in Kenya left school withbasic reading and writing skills, then Kenya (rural set ups) would be lifted out of poverty…Recommendations: 1. Creating an environment conducive to keeping girls in school through the secondary level; or at least ensure they are literate and have fully developed skills for innovativeness (KENSWED ACADEMY, CP SCHOOLS) are such practical examples. 2. Working with communities, including local political and religious leaders in order to increase public awareness of the needfulness of educating their daughters just as they do to the sons. (Ng’wono Women Group, Suba District). 3. Providing life skills and counseling so that adolescent girls are aware of their rights and know about available services. 4. Developing vocational training and income-generating programmes for adolescent girls to increase their status, independence and opportunities in life. 5. Reinforcing the capacity of local governments to engage girls in the social, economic and political life of the country. 6. To expand similar initiatives (Schools like KENSWED ACADEMY) to Rural-Set up, Rachuonyo and Suba Districts – most needy areas to promote education for all.Conclusion:Education is a right, like the right to have proper food or a roof over your head. Educating girls isa powerful lever for their empowerment, as well as for reducing poverty. Girls who are educatedare likely to marry later and to have smaller, healthier families. Education helps girls to knowtheir rights and claim them, for themselves and their families. Education can translate intoeconomic opportunities for women and their families.Therefore, education is not only a right but a passport to human development. It opens doors andexpands opportunities and freedoms. It contributes to fostering peace, democracy and economicgrowth as well as improving health and reducing poverty. The ultimate aim of Education for Allis sustainable development.Schools of all kinds have become too much like exam factories, concentrating their energies on securingpasses at A to C, and have given too little attention to the overall development of the child and theircharacter (the scramble for results has also been at the cost of genuine learning and creative teaching).The government should embrace character-building and all-round education not as an alternative toacademic attainment but as an essential adjunct of it. The opportunities open to those of independenteducation for wider enrichment should be available to all, regardless of school.
  5. 5. ‘Education for All; a Dream or Reality?’   2013    Teaching on "excellent character" should be mandatory to both boys and girls schools. Studentsshould be taught that accepting responsibility for behaviour is more important than theirindividual rights, and the parents/ guardians are told that the school values the development ofstrong character above all else. The key character traits that should be highlighted are empathy,resilience, self-regulation.I therefore, call for your support and views on how we can join hands in uplifting the poorthrough education and empower the girls to experience their right to education. It is only then,that we shall talk of education for everybody and ‘Being the change I want to see in Kenya’.The poem below is my strength and summarizes my life experiences as an educated woman in anAfrican society: Who will cry for the little girl the little girl that sleeps Who will cry for the little girl the little girl that weeps Who will cry for the little girl the little girl that will soon be grown Who will cry for the little the little girl who cant make it on her own Who will cry for the little girl the little girl who sits and stands Who will cry for the little girl the little girl who watches life in her hands Who will cry for the little girl the little girl that gives Who will cry for the little girl
  6. 6. ‘Education for All; a Dream or Reality?’   2013     the little girl that lives Who will cry for the little girl the little girl that sleeps Who will cry for the little girl the little girl inside of me Who will cry for the little girl the little girl who used to be ME! !