On any given day, more than 1 billion of the world’s children go to school. Whether they sit in buildings, in tents or under trees, ideally they are learning, developing and enriching their lives.
Access to education has improved in the past decade for millions of children. But far too many of the world’s most disadvantaged children remain excluded from school, and many of the children in school do not learn the basic skills they need to lead productive lives.
For too many children, though, school is not always a positive experience. Some endure difficult conditions, like missing or inadequate teaching materials or makeshift sanitation facilities. Others lack competent teachers and appropriate curricula. Still others may be forced to contend with discrimination, harassment and even violence. These conditions are not conducive to learning or development, and no child should have to experience them.
Access to education that is of poor quality is tantamount to no education at all. There is little point in providing the opportunity for a child to enroll in school if the quality of the education is so poor that the child will not become literate or numerate, or will fail to acquire critical life skills.
Girls’ education is both an intrinsic right and a critical lever to reaching other development objectives. Providing girls with an education helps break the cycle of poverty: educated women are less likely to marry early and against their will; less likely to die in childbirth; more likely to have healthy babies; and are more likely to send their children to school. When all children have access to a quality education rooted in human rights and gender equality, it creates a ripple effect of opportunity that influences generations to come.
Girls’ education is essential to the achievement of quality learning relevant to the 21st century, including girls’ transition to and performance in secondary school and beyond. Adolescent girls that attend school delay marriage and childbearing, are less vulnerable to disease including HIV and AIDS, and acquire information and skills that lead to increased earning power. Evidence shows that the return to a year of secondary education for girls correlates to a 25 per cent increase in wages later in life.
RACIDA’s education program is geared towards addressing the high rate of drop out for school children. This is being achieved through increasing school infrastructure like building classrooms, solar installation and water storage tanks to preserve water. Sensitizing locals against traditional cultures that like female genital mutilation, construction of sanitation facilities separate for boys and girls, equipping boarding primary schools, provision of learning aids, provision of sanitary towels to resolve absenteeism and transition. The program is also piloting the establishment of girls peer group and conduct girls camps in schools to address issues affecting girl’s enrolment and retentions such as female genital mutilation.
The girls are also equipped with life skills, which will serve as drivers of change in their respective communities and conduct peer education at household levels to follow up on girls who have either dropped out of schools or have reached school going age and are yet to enroll in school. This project is reaching out to more than 52,000 school children in 136 primary schools across Wajir and Mandera Counties.