Obstacles girl-child meets in academic life are society made

IMAGINE 129 million girls are out of school, including 32 million of primary school age around the world, according to United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).

In the countries affected by conflicts, girls are more than twice likely to be out of school than girls living in non-affected countries. But this hurdle to education for girls is not only caused by those conflicts, but there are also some other factors, including poverty, child marriage and GenderBased Violence (GBV).

Despite the efforts made by the government of Tanzania in creating enabling environment, such as the provision of education without fees from primary to secondary school, and building more classrooms to enable them acquire quality education regardless of gender in good environment, there are still some challenges.

However, those efforts encounter a lot of social challenges due to the fact that girl-students encounter various challenges compared to boys depending on the environment they hail from.

With all these challenges, girls are still making great strides in the education sector, according to the National Examination Council of Tanzania (NECTA), in this year’s Form Six results.

Among the challenges that cause many girls to drop out of school are teenage pregnancies that are caused by sexual advancements from men, who are supposed to protect them. Najma Mohamed, 15, who is also a Form Two student at Dundani Secondary School in Mkuranga District, coastal region had this to say: “Despite having a dream of becoming a politician in future, my academic journey is not an easy thing, since it has been dominated by challenges that other girls have also gone through and given up, but I must succeed.”

“My dream is to become a politician…I am interested in the performance of the Minister for Health, Ummy Mwalimu,”she says In her academic journey, she has witnessed her classmates she started school with dropout due to pregnancy, prompting her to add:

“A close friend had to drop out of school because she was pregnant …she became impregnated in a love affair after being enticed with chips and money.” In her academic life, Najma says she faces various challenges such as long distance she has to walk to school, lack of Arts subjects textbooks especially in Literature, and teachers’ shortage particularly those teaching Mathematics subject.

She further said: “The textbooks are few, and the number of textbooks cannot match with the number of students we are in class…we are about 70 in one class so it’s hard for every student to get his/her textbook, forcing us to sit in groups of about ten to fifteen.” She says that despite all that, she remains with her dream of becoming a politician so that she ensures all are served justly in the society.

Apart from the self-effort made by Najma, a lot of support to them has come from the presence of a local Champion Club, which deals with gender equality in schools as well as the protection and safety of students.

Najma is one of the members of Champion Club coordinated by the non-governmental Organisation of HakiElimu Dundani secondary school According to her, the club helps her in building the ability to overcome sexual temptations she encounters on the street.

Apart from overcoming the temptations, Najma says the club also helps them in building confidence and encouraging them to be able to talk to other.

“Through the champion club, I learned how to deal with difficulties …now I understand that challenges and difficulties in life should not interrupt my goals, “she says adding that through the club, she learnt many things including sewing female towels.

“The Champion club educates on how to sew female towels in Kiswahili known as SODO, something which helps us attend the studies despite being in menstruation periods,” Najma says In a related development, Najma points out that the presence of the club in their school has contributed to an increase in academic performance, saying:

“In the seminar, we are taught to overcome street sexual temptations that forces many girls to drop out, …we are also told to focus more on studies and last year the girls who were involved in the seminar performed better than the boys. “

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