Updated: Dec 20, 2021
As if there weren't already enough obstacles impeding the education of girls in many countries, along comes the Covid pandemic indiscriminately creating havoc along its path. The impact on children's education in general has been significantly detrimental. Over the past couple of years, there have been no more than a handful of countries where Covid has not seriously disrupted the education system.
Not surprisingly, the repercussion for students has been unequal, as not everyone could equally afford the conditions and tools required to continue their education virtually. For girls who may have managed to start school by overcoming many odds even before the pandemic, one can imagine that their education would have come to a total halt, perhaps permanently. For families struggling to make ends meet, spending scarce resources on the education of a daughter is the least priority.
Amara is one such girl who vividly recalls her excitement two years ago when her mother told her that she would be going to school with her brother. It was the Fall of 2019, and she had just turned six. "Everyday I see my brother go to school, I ask Mama why I cannot go with him," she relates in her broken English, behaving much older than her eight years. "Then on my six birthday, my Mama say she has surprise for me and she give me this paper. I can not read it. I don't know how. You go to Kindergarten, my Mama said. I become so happy!"
Amara's mother smiles at the memory and explains that she and her husband had agreed to prioritize Amara's education because she herself had shown so much interest. "My husband do small work in evening so we buy dress and books," she relates. "Then Covid come and we very scared for them to go school."
"But I go three month," Amara rushes to add. "I learn ABC and I draw so good! But now everything close."
The likelihood of Amara going back to school is almost non-existent. She is now mostly busy helping her mother around the house, including taking care of her newborn sister. Her father continues to do odd jobs and is barely able to sustain the family's livelihood.
But Amara's return to school can be made possible through external intervention and support. She is willing, her parents are willing, but circumstances are against them. It is contingent upon us to enable their circumstance and provide the opportunity for Amara to go back to school.
It is not merely to fulfill a girl child's desire out of sympathy, We must do it because every girl educated has proven statistically to improve her own life and her family's life, as well as to contribute towards the reduction of poverty in her nation.
Now that countries are actively managing the COVID pandemic and starting to bring back normalcy in education, it is time to focus on the education of girls who find themselves in an underprivileged situation.
Together, we CAN change the world, one girl at a time.