What you need to know:
- For all children, boys and girls, education provides today’s stability and tomorrow’s opportunities.
- While we have witnessed progress in education, wide gender gaps still exist, most often at the expense of girls, although boys, in some regions, are disadvantaged.
The wishlist of the country’s poorest families’ is very long. From having three meals a day, to habitable homes. They wish for educated and healthier families, and to protect women and children from domestic violence, among other issues.
There is, however, a ‘silver bullet’ to these challenges - education - especially of the girl child.
Some years back, I was privileged to teach at Alliance Girls High School. Over the years, I watched girls turn into responsible young women. Some were from very needy backgrounds.
I recall one who reported to Form One in her primary school uniform, escorted by her headmaster. The only luggage she had was an empty tin suitcase. The girl’s family could not afford to bring her to school, leave alone pay her fees.
The kind headmaster was determined to see her get an education. She became a beneficiary of the school’s programme that supported bright but needy girls.
The young woman, who became one of my favourite students, went ahead to stand out academically and eventually got an international scholarship for her university education.
Today, she is a key decision-maker in government. I remain grateful to her primary school headmaster. I wonder how her life would have turned out if he had not made the bold move.
This young woman is one of thousands this great school has churned out over the years. Of course, there are many other great schools out there that have produced Kenya’s women of excellence. A girl’s education is an investment in her future – and our country’s - a thriving, peaceful and sustainable nation.
For all children, boys and girls, education provides today’s stability and tomorrow’s opportunities. While we have witnessed progress in education, wide gender gaps still exist, most often at the expense of girls, although boys, in some regions, are disadvantaged.
Globally, women account for almost two-thirds of adults unable to read. Unesco says 130 million girls aged between six and 17 are out of school, with those from the poorest families more likely to be out of school than those from affluent communities.
Obstacles, including poverty, form an insurmountable barrier to girls’ education. Every parent should go the extra mile to educate their daughters. Gone are the days when girls were subjected to domestic chores and denied opportunities of education while their brothers studied.
The government and education stakeholders should also encourage parents to get more involved in programmes to keep girls in schools. For instance, parents are needed to drive the fight against early marriage and female genital mutilation in regions where these are prevalent.
Today’s girls are tomorrow’s women leaders. Studies show that greater representation of women in leadership leads to more equitable policies and better systems.
This week, we feature ‘girls’ who studied at Alliance Girls High School in the 1960s. They include the ‘who is who’ in Kenya and exemplify the importance of educating girls. They went to Alliance, at a time when girls’ education was not a priority in most homes. They recently met to celebrate their school’s 75th anniversary. Click on the above link and find out how the great reunion of these ‘girls’ who ‘went to Alliance’ turned out.