A Girl with a Book

A young woman at the Kukanga School.
(Click images to view larger)
Blog post by One School Director, Bay Roberts:
Did you know that girls in Sub-Saharan Africa who go to school are:
     •         more likely to enter the work force
     •         earn higher incomes
     •         delay marriage
     •         have fewer children
     •         have lower HIV infection rates
     •         have reduced infant mortality
     •         plan their families
     •         seek an education for their own children?
Girl’s education is the highest-returning social investment in the world.” (Gene Sperling, Director of the Center for Universal Education at the Council on Foreign Relations). Girl’s education not only changes individual lives, but also has the power to change entire communities—and countries. According to USAID:
     •   A 10% increase in girls in school raises a country’s GDP an average of 3%
     •   Girls who stay in school for 7 or more years marry 4 years later and have 2 fewer children
Journalist Nikolas Kristof writes, “Yet we’ve also learned that done right, education changes almost everything. Evidence suggests that educating girls increases productivity, raises health standards, reduces birthrates and undermines extremism. Drones and missiles can fight terrorism, but an even more transformative weapon is a girl with a book, and it’s one that is remarkably cost-effective. For the price of a single Tomahawk cruise missile, it’s possible to build about 20 schools”.
What are simple, cost effective interventions that can help Ugandan girls stay in school?
     • Provide new uniforms for their developing bodies.
Girls often drop out of school because they lack a school uniform. Historically, students who do not wear uniforms can be sent home at the discretion of the principal. Girls may solve this problem by finding a “sugar daddy,” an older man with money who will pay for her school uniform as long as she has sex with him.  Girls who do this may suffer greatly since older men are more likely to be infected with HIV than younger ones.
     • Provide a way for girls to manage their menstruation.
Imagine telling your menstruating daughter that she must stay home from school because you can not afford to provide her with sanitary pads? This is the sad reality for many Ugandan girls, especially those whose families are living in rural areas on less than $1/day. These girls cannot afford to buy sanitary products and instead resort to using old rags, toilet paper, newspaper, ash, mud and even cow dung. They skip school to avoid embarrassing leaks and stains in public. Some girls just drop out of school completely.
Teacher demonstrates how girls use banana fiber to make a sanitary pad.
     • Provide peer to peer mentoring, educational and emotional support meetings for girls and their parents.
The onset of menstruation puts African girls at educational risk. Negative practices include sexual harassment (even from teachers), withdrawal of economic support from the home and the sudden pressure to marry. Efforts to keep girls in school should include regular support and informational meetings for both older girls and their parents.
     • Provide private girl’s latrines and wash areas at school.
Rural schools in Uganda sometime do not have adequate toilet facilities, especially for girls.
     • Provide clean on site water.
In Africa, girls are expected to collect water. Girls can be subject to assault while collecting water, and they also lose valuable classroom time.  A complete clean water system helps girls while benefitting all the students and community- overall health and sanitation improves.
A typical water collection site in rural Uganda.
How does One School at a Time support girls to stay in school?
     •  165 needy older girls received uniforms at our 4 partner schools (2013). Each uniform cost about $10.
Tailor working on Partner School #4 girl’s uniforms.
New uniforms at Partner School #1.
     •  161 needy older girls received re-usable sanitary pads at our 4 partner schools (2013). Each re-usable sanitary pad kit costs about $8.
A parent distributes sanitary pads to students at Partner School #4.
Re-usable sanitary pads at Partner School #1.
     •   Informational meetings with the girls enrolled in the uniform program, their teachers and their parents were held each school term since the uniforms and pads were distributed in 2013. The purpose of these meetings is to provide these girls with information about their changing bodies and to encourage parents to support their daughters to stay in school.
     •   Construction of girls latrine and wash area at Partner School #2 (2012).
New girl’s latrine and wash area at Partner School #2.
     •   Construction of simple maintenance-free clean water systems at Partner Schools #1, 2, 3.
Cistern completed!
Support One School at a Time to help more Ugandan girls beat the odds! Your tax deductible donation will pay for re-useable sanitary pad kits for 500 older girls at our 5 partner schools in 2015, and clean water systems at Partner Schools #4 and #5. Donate Now!