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NIGERIA: Why I Was Always Late to School

JANEKALU
Posted October 5, 2016 from Nigeria

Jane Kalu helps girls in rural Nigeria go to school without the financial burdens she shouldered as a young girl.

“I know from experience that the true costs of getting an education go beyond school fees.

I was born into a polygamous family in Abia State, Nigeria. Growing up as a young girl came with challenges, especially when it came to my education.

My dad recognized the huge responsibility of having a large family of 19 children and four wives. He set out to pay our school feesbut compelled his wives to handle all of the other responsibilities that come with feeding and schooling children.

My mum was my dad’s fourth wife and also his last wife. She didn’t mind the other wives and she was determined to make her home a safe haven for all of her five children (3 girls and 2 boys). But living in this family left her with no other choice than to hustle more in her farming and local soap production business to feed us, clothe us, and buy the books necessary for our academic pursuits.

It was difficult for her to fulfill these enormous responsibilities alone, especially considering her lack of formal education. As my mother’s oldest child, I looked for means to help her.

I would wake up as early as 5am to hawk corn pap (a Nigerian breakfast delicacy) before school. After this tedious responsibility, it was not easy to arrive at school on time.

I can vividly recount the flogging and other punishments from my teachers for coming to school late. When I would explain to my teachers the reasons for constantly being late, it would only attract mockery from my fellow students.

Meanwhile, my father was basking in the euphoria of having paid my school fees and was not bothered by any other issues concerning school. At one point I was on the verge of dropping out of school. But my mother was undaunted. She was determined to see her children through school. She never allowed any of us to drop out. She saw greatness in us and was willing to do every reasonable thing humanly possible to allow us to get an advanced education.

In spite of the financial difficulties—and in spite of the ridicule from fellow students who only saw my immediate poverty—I managed, by the grace of God, to finish my secondary education. My mum’s doggedness was a pushing force in my life. And with financial and moral support from my half-sister, I was able to secure admission into a polytechnic.

In Nigeria, education at a polytechnic is associated with people from poor homes. It involves only two years, compared to the four years needed for a university education. While students from better homes went on to study another two years to achieve a Higher National Diploma, I was compelled to accept a job offer as a cashier in a maritime company at the end of my two years.

Today, I have overcome the challenges of my upbringing. My experiences as a young girl from a poor home in a rural community in Nigeria inspired me to start an organization (the Grassroots Women and Girls Empowerment and Gender Equity Initiative) to encourage young girls from poor homes to cope with the challenges they face.

The shame and ridicule for always coming to school late were a serious emotional burden on me. Although primary education is now free in Nigeria, parents still engage young girls in hawking wares to buy books and other educational materials. I took a stand to ensure that young girls will not be forced into child labor to help their parents finance their education.

I know from experience that the true costs of getting an education go beyond school fees. We are partnering with rich families in the urban centers to source used textbooks and educational materials to distribute to indigent students in rural schools. We also organize seminars and workshops that empower young girls in rural homes.

My vision is to ensure that girls in rural communities in Nigeria have the chance to become the changemakers they are born to be.

Comments 22

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Sunny_Day
Oct 05, 2016
Oct 05, 2016

The work you are doing for girls is very inspiring! Keep up the good work.

JANEKALU
Oct 06, 2016
Oct 06, 2016

Thanks Dear for making out your time to read the post

Adanna
Oct 06, 2016
Oct 06, 2016

Knowing you has been a blessing but I am more proud of what you are doing to help other sisters!

Jensine Larsen
Oct 06, 2016
Oct 06, 2016

Your are so brave. What an inspiration your life story is to other young girls. Thank you.

Alexandra Fercak
Oct 06, 2016
Oct 06, 2016

What a great story you shared! And it looks like your mother was instrumental in ensuring you keep going and that you get to realize your potential.

Good luck with all your endeavors! You are a changemaker! Thank you!

Take care,

JANEKALU
Oct 07, 2016
Oct 07, 2016

Hi Adanna, Thanks for your words of encouragements

Regards

Jane kalu

JANEKALU
Oct 07, 2016
Oct 07, 2016

Dear Jensine,Your are the instrument that made it possible for our voices to be heard I can't thank you less.

Cheers

Jane Kalu.

JANEKALU
Oct 07, 2016
Oct 07, 2016

Dear Alexandra, Thank you for your wonderful words, indeed my mum played a crucial role in who i am today .She never allowed her situation  to subdue her, she saw hope where others sees  failure.I still owe it to her

Thanks

Jane Kalu

Kymberly Kalu
Oct 07, 2016
Oct 07, 2016

Jane, your writing is great, and I was able to picture you in the story amongst the villages I visited awhile ago. Well done with this organisation. It brings me great hope for Nigeria that there are motivated and self-sacrificing women like you making a difference. Truly the women of your country are the sustainers of life amidst meager livelihoods. I should like to meet you someday on my next visit! Kymberly Kalu

Pooja Varde
Oct 07, 2016
Oct 07, 2016

Wow Jane, your story is really very inspirational! It is a true example of rising against all odds! Hats off to your Mother! :) And keep up the good work!

Anne Dupont
Oct 08, 2016
Oct 08, 2016

Dear Jane,

Thank you for sharing your inspiring story! You are doing great work and are showing others, particularly young girls coming after you, what it means to have a vision and be a change maker.  What a great role model you are, as your mother was for you!  

Warmly,  Anne

Mwaka
Oct 11, 2016
Oct 11, 2016

Great work you are doing Jane, may God continue using you empower more young girls.

Aissatou sall
Oct 11, 2016
Oct 11, 2016

I love your story Jane.You are so brave.

Chinyere Okoh
Oct 11, 2016
Oct 11, 2016

Thank you Jane...

.You are an inspiration

JANEKALU
Oct 12, 2016
Oct 12, 2016

Hi Chinyere, Thank you for reading my post

Jane Kalu

JANEKALU
Oct 12, 2016
Oct 12, 2016

Dear Kymberly, What we owe to humanity is impacting that which we have gotten. The situation in my country is so pathetic, what we need to make a difference is self sacrifice.With God on our side we know one day we will change the situation. Thanks Jane Kalu

JANEKALU
Oct 12, 2016
Oct 12, 2016

Hello Pooja S, thank you for your words of encouragement

Cheers Jane Kalu

JANEKALU
Oct 12, 2016
Oct 12, 2016

Dear Dando, thank you for stopping by, i know together we will make the world a better place.

Thanks Jane Kalu

JANEKALU
Oct 12, 2016
Oct 12, 2016

Hi Aissatou, thank you very much for your comments

Cheers Jane Kalu

otahelp
Oct 17, 2016
Oct 17, 2016

Jane that was a very captivating story. looks like you are almost from the same place like me from Abia. We keep in touch and share more ideas. kudos

JANEKALU
Oct 18, 2016
Oct 18, 2016

Hello Otahelp, thanks for taking out your time to read my post.

Cheers 

Jane Kalu

ARREY- ECHI
Oct 24, 2016
Oct 24, 2016

Hi Jane, What an inspiring and moving story. The more I read such stories of determination and resilience, the more I realise we women are the ones to unitedly bring about the change we desire for future generations. Together, women are stronger than divided. Keep raising your voice. Sorry for the emotional trauma you faced. I am glad it didn't discourage you. Big up for the work you do. Love,