There is still a chance

Posted April 23, 2013 from Botswana

In my view, one thing, which I believe, is the greatest hindrance is teenage pregnancy, which is sky rocketing in the country. Though there is a provision for teenage mothers to go back to school after maternity, most of them never go back to school. Most of these girls will then be stuck with children without anyone to take care of their babies while they go back to school. The boy child who could have impregnated them, would continue with their education as normal while she stays home taking care of the child. There are a few cases where girls go back to school, where there is strong family support. In some instances, we find that they will be targets of ridicule by both teachers and students, where there is no strong support system for such students they end up dropping off the school. The other hind-rent is the culture especially with the Basezelu and Basarwa tribes . The Basezulu tribes in Botswana allow their children to go up to primary school level only and in some families boy child will be allowed to go up to secondary school.The girl child will start helping at home and selling eggs,maize , oranges and mangoes in the streets.There are a quite few Basezuru children who even go through university. Just like the Basezulu, the Basarwa children mostly never go through school, due to their nomadic lives and most of them starts families at a very young age. The government has built schools within the community for easy access and provides students with uniforms and food all necessities for the Basarwa children but it is probably 20% that goes through the tertiary level. These calls for intensive intervention s that would target the parents and the cultural leaders in those communities and the law will have to be strengthened regarding access to education. The other challenge is the role of caregiver, which most young girls find themselves having to play. Due to disintegration of extended family set upchildren finds themselves with sick parents without support from relative.This is the case mainly in female-headed families. In those instanses when the parent dies the elder, one is forced to take care of the young siblings. Our community is full of childheaded family, which are lead by young girls, who are forced to take a parental role before time and at the end their education suffers.Most of them never reach their potential. During my tenure as a teacher, I had a prevelege to meet with some wonderful young girls who were living in not such wonderful environments .Some of them managed to pursue their education to tertiary level while some never went to Senior school. Student B account: This young girl was living with her mother who was paralyzed after a car accident and due to this the father left home, this young girl was barely five years old when this happened. When she grew up she found her self in place where she had to take care of her mother since the other siblings were old and working out of town. They would hire a helper but most of the time they will not even last for two months .Almost every month there will be times where she would miss school taking care of the mother or even come late to school. Nevertheless, this young girl managed to pull through regardless of her situation. I believe this was mainly due to her determination, most have failed but she managed.

I believe that if these barriers were not there our country would be far interms of development, cases of gender-based violence would not be this much, and HIV/AIDS prevalence and incidence would have been low. The key to most of this barrier lies with character, the education system need to change from being too academic to survival skills, which zero in to character building. As mentioned earlier right now in our country we are experiencing extremely high rates of teenage pregnancy and the sad thing is that these girls have been taught about HIV/AIDS and consequences of being sexually active at a young age. This brought me to this conclusion that ; knowledge alone can’t not change perceptions, its high time we come up with programmes which target behavior change and character building. Parents need to be taken to task concerning the education of their children. To ensure that they are given support . There should be educational systems in place that will allow the young girls to continue with their education while home. Distance learning and online education should be promoted and supported especially in developing countries. Funds should be availed by governments and business community for young girls who fell off the main stream .

I believe there is still a chance to change

Girls Transform the World 2013

Comments 4

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Dana Anderson
Apr 26, 2013
Apr 26, 2013

Hi Gaok, You do a great job of describing some of the most important challenges faced by young girls. I learned so much while reading this! I really like the solution you offer, which is unique and shows that you have really thought deeply about this issue. I agree that pure knowledge alone is not enough for empowerment; we need support on all levels of empowerment, including motivation for change.

Thank you for telling about the experience of one of your students, which is at once heartbreaking and inspirational. I love how as a teacher you can reach out to a student such as her and be the foundation she needs to build on with her own determination.

I'm looking forward to reading more of your writing!

Best, Dana

Apr 27, 2013
Apr 27, 2013


I like the way you described the situations with understanding and empathy, as well as describing solutions. In many places with traditional gender roles, "modern" life intrudes and yet those roles and perceptions don't change quickly enough. It really plays havoc with families and often, as you rightly pointed out, impacts girls and women the most. Nice work!

Apr 28, 2013
Apr 28, 2013

This is a really good insight into the realities for girls in your community and country, and your experience as a teacher is really an advantage.

May 10, 2013
May 10, 2013

good analysis, it is a huge problem that is complex and yet requires urgent attention by all if it has to be addressed