"Even if you send your daughter to school and pay school fees, she will not be able to repay you as much as you paid for her, right now finding job is really difficult especially for farmers' children, and we do not have any official relatives who can go backdoor to find jobs once your child get graduated from high school or college. So what we could do is to bribe government officials to get jobs for your children,” said our family’s neighbor Aaye (local way to address an old man) to my parents that I still clearly remember. When the day of my graduation from primary school approached, the one thing agonizing me was about whether or not I was being able to continue my education further in Middle school. Actually primary graduation should have been the moment at when one ought to celebrate for a completion of six years studies; it was rather a critical moment for me. Going to a middle school was the goal of my life, hope, destination, and it was my every day dream.
Going to a middle school, we would have to pay tuition about 480 RMB for a semester. So, I was really concerned whether my family would be able to cover my tuition or whether they would be willing to invest any amount in my education. I was pretty clearly that it would be very difficult for an agricultural family like my own to support a middle-school-student with 480 RMB tuition fees in four months and 960 RMB in a year. Because of the tuition demands, most children in my home area would be ceased continuing their education once they graduated from primary school, which are free from any fees. However, I would not say because of economical barrier, families could not afford to have their children continued their education, but it was more about parents’ reluctance to invest any in girls’ education. If parents really believe in daughter’s education and allow her to fulfill potential capabilities through education, there could be many other means to make it happen.
Fortunately, my parents agreed to send me to Karze Tibetan Middle school which is 30kilometers away from my village. Not because of my family was well-to-do enough to pay my school fees, but because my parents believed in me and my education. When I went to middle school, most of my relatives, and villagers complained my parents for sending me to the middle school with such high tuition. They suggested my parents to keep me at home and send me to do construction work for earning money like any other girls my age. However, so many of my peers were kept at home for herding livestock, digging caterpillar fungus, doing construction work, and picking up weeds in the fields.
Moreover, traditionally people favor boys to girls because boys are born to be real carriers of family legacy from one generation to another, but girls are born as properties of other families because they are supposed to marry out when they grow up. Having a son serves emotional purposes by the way. And girls are trained for weeding, herding, harvesting, sweeping, milking and picking up yak dung, and cooking.
One more reason preventing girls to access education is that there are very few female models that inspire others and lack of female roles in leadership, people assume that females are not capable enough to take leadership positions without giving females any opportunities. The possible solutions could be raising awareness of the importance of girls’ education in especially remote areas by having workshop on various topics in terms of health issue, and storytelling to encourage young women to participate in social activities. Furthermore, it would be good step to have female led programs where have girls built social-network, raise their own voices and break the social boundaries.
Take action! This post was submitted in response to Girls Transform the World 2013.