These 3 girls won’t let obstacles prevent them from going to school

As we celebrate the International  Day of the Girl, we are glad to share these three stories from girls in Nepal, Ethiopia and Mauritania who, despite the odds stacked against them, are pursuing their education and on their way to a better life for themselves, their future families and their countries.

October 11, 2019 by GPE Secretariat
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4 minute read
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Today, we celebrate the International Day of the Girl.

More than 130 million girls are still not able to go to school around the world. There has been immense progress over the past decades to help them get to school, but girls still face barriers that make it more difficult for them to pursue and complete 12 years of education, especially if they live in poor countries, in rural areas, in places where there are no female teachers, or in conflict settings.

Today however, we want to tell the stories of 3 girls who, despite the odds, are able to go to school and learn, and dream of careers and futures better than that of their parents or sisters.

Meet Barsha, 12 - Nepal

Barsha Kumari Pashawal in her (class five) classroom at Shree Ram Narayan Ayodhaya School, Pipra rural municipality, Mahottari District, Ward 4, Nepal. Credit: GPE/Kelley Lynch
Barsha Kumari Pashawal in her (class five) classroom at Shree Ram Narayan Ayodhaya School, Pipra rural municipality, Mahottari District, Ward 4, Nepal.
PME/Kelley Lynch

On this photo, Barsha Kumari Pashawal responds to her teacher’s question at Shree Ram Narayan Ayodhaya School, Pipra rural municipality, Mahottari District, in Nepal. She’s in grade 5.

Two years ago, Barsha had never set foot in a classroom. She spent her days at home, helping her mother take care of two younger siblings and doing household chores. Neither of Barsha's parents have attended school.

One day, a local facilitator for the GATE program (Girls' Access to School—an initiative jointly funded by UNICEF and the Government) came to her house to talk to Barsha’s parents. It took several visits to convince them, but eventually they agreed she could join 24 other girls aged 10-14 and attend a catch-up class that met two hours a day, six days a week, for nine months.

Barsha took her studies seriously. Most girls who complete the program move into grade 2 or 3, but Barsha did well enough to enter grade 5. Barsha’s dream is to become a teacher in the same school where she studies now.

The GATE program relies on the Equity Index implemented by the Government of Nepal with support from GPE and other partners. The index helps the government use education data to identify disparities in access to education, participation and learning outcomes, and to target programs to the children who need it most, like Barsha.

Meet Aichetou, 14 – Mauritania

Aichetou Mint Mohamed Ali, 14, in class with teacher and Headmaster Ballaaf Ould Salem Vall; College Riyad 5, Tarhil, Nouakchott, Mauritania. Credit: GPE/Kelley Lynch
Aichetou Mint Mohamed Ali, 14, in class with teacher and Headmaster Ballaaf Ould Salem Vall; College Riyad 5, Tarhil, Nouakchott, Mauritania.
GPE/Kelley Lynch

Aichetou, 14, is a grade 8 student at College Riyad 5 in Tarhil, a community on the outskirts of Mauritania’s capital Nouakchott. She is one of the best students in her class and wants to become a religious studies teacher.

Aichetou and two of her brothers are the only members of the family who go to school. Their two older sisters both attended primary school but never finished.

The Government of Mauritania has made significant progress in recent years in primary schooling access and completion. But transition to lower-secondary school remains a challenge, especially for girls. In 2013, only 55% of girls moved on from primary school to lower-secondary compared to 61% of boys.

In response, the Government, with the support of GPE, has been building more proximity schools in areas with large populations where children, especially girls, have not been transitioning to lower secondary school. Aichetou is now enrolled in grade 8 in one of the proximity schools located 1.5 km away from her home.

Meet Habtam, Ethiopia

Every day, Habtam Asfaw walks to Meskerem Elementary School in Bahar Dar, Ethiopia, where she attends grade 6. Credit: GPE/Kelley Lynch
Every day, Habtam Asfaw walks to Meskerem Elementary School in Bahar Dar, Ethiopia, where she attends grade 6.
GPE/Kelley Lynch

Every day, Habtam Asfaw walks for 15 minutes from her home to the Meskerem School in Bahar Dar, Ethiopia, where she is in grade 6.

It wouldn’t be a long walk if she didn’t have to deal with boys and men harassing and frightening her along the road. Every single day, all over the world, girls like Habtam face physical, psychological and sexual harassment both on their way to school and in school.

But since Habtam attended a life skills training at school, things have changed. She now has more confidence and has the tools to effectively respond to harassment. During the monthly training girls are encouraged to share their experiences and fears with female teachers who advise them on issues related to menstruation, family planning, gender-based violence and conflict resolution.

With support from GPE and with other education partners, Ethiopian schools receive grants to improve their schools, which often support interventions to promote girls’ education such as life skills training, refurbishing classrooms, and building separate toilets for girls and boys.

These initiatives are encouraging more girls to enroll and complete school. Between 2013/14 and 2017/18, the completion rate of girls in grade 8 increased from 47% to 56%, and the repetition rate for girls in grades 1-8 decreased from 8% to 5%.

Now, Habtam is no longer afraid to walk to school.

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Gender equality
South Asia | Sub-Saharan Africa

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Comments

Soy maestra y pedagoga y me gustaría desde hace años poder desplazarse a estos lugares donde sé que puedo aportar mi experiencia... Llevo más de 20 años dedicada a ello
No sé cómo hacer pues lo he inyección todo varias veces y aunque cumplimento los formularios nunca recibo respuesta
Gracias
Esther

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