Transforming girls’ lives with education: Meet Rekia, Habtam, and Rosabelle

Read the inspiring stories of Rekia, Habtam and Rosabelle, three young girls whose lives are being transformed thanks to the power of education.

March 17, 2022 by GPE Secretariat
4 minutes read
From left to right: Rekia, Habtam, and Rosabelle
From left to right: Rekia, Habtam, and Rosabelle

Rekia from Eritrea: A safe place to learn

“I’m very happy to finally be learning. I know I’m young, but if given the chance, I’d like to take up teaching or nursing as a career to help my community.”

Until recently, 10-year-old student Rekia from Asheti, Eritrea, had to walk 5 kilometers to an elementary school that operated under a tent, leaving students at the mercy of weather, which was not always conducive to learning.

"Previously, we did not have a properly built school in Asheti. Our children were learning in makeshifts or under shades. The new school gives hope to the villages in and around Asheti," Samku, Rekia’s mother.

With support from GPE, the ministry of Education has zeroed in on improving education for the most disadvantaged children living in the communities of the Anseba, Gash-Barka, Northern Red Sea and Southern Red Sea regions.

Now, more than 39,000 students learn in newly built and equipped classrooms. The grant also funded the distribution of 3.5 million textbooks, teacher training and strengthened data collection.

“I am overjoyed to see my daughter going to school. It is a privilege that was not provided for me. Every mother should be encouraged to send her children to school,” Samku.

Now the future looks brighter for more children in Eritrea.

Read blog: Building schools, building lives in Eritrea: Meet Rekia

Habtam from Ethiopia: No longer afraid to walk to school

“Before when I was at school and menstruating, I didn’t feel comfortable. Now I can go to the girls’ club and inform the teacher that I need to clean and change the pad in the room.”

Every day, grade 6 student Habtam Asfaw walks to the Meskerem School in Bahar Dar, Ethiopia. For Habtam the journey was never easy, as she dealt with boys and men harassing her along the road.

However, Habtam now has more confidence and feels better prepared to respond to harassment thanks to a life skills training she attended at school. Offered on a monthly basis, this training allows girls to share their experiences and fears with female teachers.

The training serves to have teachers advise girls on key subjects like gender-based violence, conflict resolution, along with issues like menstruation and family planning.

The Meskerem School has also built a private space where girls can manage their period in a comfortable way and curb menstrual-related absenteeism.

With the efforts of GPE, nearly all schools, in both rural and urban areas, have received school grants to improve learning and the quality of teaching. Disadvantaged students and schools, which have the lowest education indicators, received the largest grants.

GPE funding is helping transform schools to have girl-friendly environments. This encourages girls like Habtam to continue and complete their education.

Read blog: Ethiopia: A long-term commitment spurs results

Rosabelle from Vanuatu: Learning during natural disasters and COVID-19

“When COVID-19 came our school closed, and we had home packages and these home packages had a timetable. They gave a day for each subject, when we should be doing the work… And with the timetable, after a week, you must go back so they teacher can check it, and see if you are doing it right.”

Tropical cyclone Harold hit Vanuatu in 2020, destroying hundreds of schools and disrupting learning for 51,000 students. In normal circumstances dealing with the aftermath of a cyclone is a herculean effort, the government had to do so in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Grade 7 student Rosabelle attends Pango Primary School and is among the students who were affected by the two crises.

GPE has been supporting the government to ensure learning during doesn’t stop during both crises.

To date, more than 7,600 teaching and learning materials, along with home-school packages for preschool and primary school children, have been distributed. These materials have been adapted to meet the needs of children with disabilities.

GPE also supported the provision of water tanks for at least 83 primary schools affected by the cyclone.

"When we went back [to school], there was hand washing and a lot of children obeyed the rules of social distancing," Rosabelle.

Rosabelle would like to become a teacher because she wants to be a good role model and help the future of other children. She knows the future is brighter with quality education.

Read story: Vanuatu: Tackling the impact of natural disasters by building a resilient education system

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