Having been able to go to school and finally get a degree and a post graduate degree for me is a dream come true. I was fortunate enough to have parents who valued education and it was the best gift that they gave me in this life. Many people take many things for granted including education. For most girls in rural areas going to school is luxury.
Many girls are brought from the village by people who claim that they are going to take them to school in the city and they end up using them for different jobs like prostitution and being maids. Harriet aged 12 now and Lucy aged 14 now were brought from their villages by a certain man who was close to their parents. This man who had apparently was seen as successful by many villagers, was able to convince many parents in his village that he was taking their children back to school. This man owned a stove making business in the heart of Kampala. What he would do was to actually bring children from the village, make them all sleep in one room and use them to make for him charcoal stoves. As this was not tiring for these young children, the girls were used for prostitution at night.
Halima now 19 with 4 children wishes she had been an opportunity to go to school like her brothers. At the age of 13 her father married her off to a 40 year old man and she made the fourth wife. She gave birth to her first child at the age of 14. She claims that the girls in her family were all married off between the ages of 13 and 14. According to her father girls were assets and he never bothered to educate them because he knew he would marry them off.
The barriers to girls’ education include mainly culture, ignorance, economic situation and lack of proper infrastructure in the rural areas.
Culture in many of rural areas is still very strong and this has contributed a lot to the lack of education of our girls. According to many cultures girls are not supposed to go to school simply because they are considered to be wives and mothers one day.
In addition many parents are ignorant especially those in remote villages. Most of them give their children to business people in towns who claim that they are going to educate their daughters. They later on find out that their children are being used for various jobs within the towns. In most cases the girls return back home with children or when they are HIV positive.
Other parents claim that they cannot educate the girls because they do not have the means to do so. And even if they do, they would first educate the boys because many believe that however much you educate the girl child she will disappoint you and get pregnant before you know it. Other parents prefer to give away the girl child as a worker at a tender age so that they can look after the parent eventually.
Many other parents blame the lack of education of their girls on the lack of schools within their localities. They claim that even if the government has put in place Universal primary education the schools are so far away from where they live and so they cannot risk sending their children to school. This is because in many cases children have been kidnapped and taken for sacrifice on their way to and from school.
Parents from ethnic minority groups also claim that their children do not follow the syllabus because of their way of life and end up dropping out of school.
WE should consider ourselves part of the solution, because every one of us has the power to ensure that girls are in various communities are gives the chance to go to school. Many times we blame culture but it is high time we stood up against culture and encouraged parents in these remote communities to embrace education for girls. Now that the government has provided universal primary education many of the parents in remote areas should be encouraged to educate their children.
There is need for communities to more aware of the situation in towns so that their children are not brought to suffer in towns. Parents should also be encouraged to be more involved in educating their daughters.
We should also advocate for our government to develop inclusive and intercultural education provision and curricula, which ensure that all groups have an understanding of the multicultural society and that there are shared and common values in the public domain which evolve through democratic consultation.
“Together we can ensure girls get not just education but quality education.”Girls Transform the World 2013