Education for Girls
First let me start off with some facts, the statistics are not current due to a lack of information, but with the increasing downward trend of the entire economy of Zimbabwe it is highly unlikely that things have improved, here is what I know ...
- the numbers of girls and boys at primary school are relatively equal, however the numbers drop remarkably when it comes to the numbers of girls attending secondary school
- daughters are still seen as:
- a source of income, the tradition of 'lobolo' (dowry) is still practised and so daughters are a way to improve circumstances of the family by being married off
- used as child labour, women traditionally do much of the manual labour at subsistence level and the daughters are enlisted as soon as possible
- regrettably sexual exploitation is always a threat to girls, especially in circumstances where they don't have parents or family members looking out for them
- cost of education is too high for many parents to afford and given the choice they will choose the boys rather than girls.
Education of girls is vitally important in Zimbabwe, in Africa as a whole really. It is proven that education in girls combats ignorance, poverty, disease, encourages better family planning and is a key to socio-economic and political transformation. The question is why then are not more girls being educated ... well, for the same reason that women all over the world are still fighting for their equal place in society ...
When I decided upon my trip I immediately decided that I could also use the journey to highlight a cause and it was really tough to choose. I'm passionate about the wildlife of Africa and how they are the jewels in the crown that keep getting slaughtered and sold off. Instead they should be treasured and protected because they are not only the inheritance of future generations but they have more value to the community and the world long-term in tourism than they do in the one-off hunt or poach. The plight of the economy and how entrepreneurship can help people generate an honest income and bring pride to individuals and security to their families (I hope to do more about this when I get to Zimbabwe). In addition, the funds and medicines needed for hospitals, the elderly who worked all their lives and their pensions are now valueless and they are in poverty, the list goes on, truly there is no end to the things that should, could, need to be done.
However, when I stepped back I realised that many things would be solved by education and while it may not change much right now, but if we don't start now, it will never improve. I also chose girls education as they have less opportunity and could make the biggest impact.
There are a number of programs run by local wealthy philanthropisits and these are great, they focus on rural areas or orphaned children and certainly there is so much to be done I don't believe that my initiative detracts from their work but presents the opportunity to collaborate and do more.
The working name for program currently is Kusasa ('tomorrow' in Ndebele), it aims to:
- Identify high potential, disadvantaged, girls for scholarships
- Work with schools with high educational levels to ensure the girls achieve academic and personal success
- Identify girls who will need boarding to enable them to achieve the higher level of education
- Support girls with uniforms, books and sanitary protection (yes, often forgotten) and anything else they require
- Provide career guidance
- Establish a mentor program where girls can be supported by older girls/women who may help them succeed socially and not just academically
- Support girls who wish to move into further education - university, college or apprenticeships to find the support they may need to progress.
When developing this I decided that to ensure the success of students it would be important to provide the girls with more than just a place at a school and let them 'sink or swim', certainly there is an element of character building here but at the same time I feel it is important to aim for success, rather than hoping for it.
If you are interested in supporting this program, I would love your feedback and you can make a donation either on this site (where we pay less fees) or on GoFundMe.