Our girls, education and lost dreams in mire of poverty

Our girls, education and lost dreams in mire of poverty

Every other girl that you see has a dream -an aspiration for a better life-
for her own and the larger family. The most ultimate thing that can make
those dreams come true is education, and unfortunately, after primary
school, few of our girls go ahead, and they are not to blame for it.

The ‘A’ level results released recently speaks volumes about the sorry state
of our education system in as far as the case of girl-child is concerned,
and worse still for the millions schooling in villages.

Despite National Examination Council of Tanzania (NECTA) gloating how more
girls will join university according to this year’s ‘A” level results, there
is no cause for celebration. This is because more girls than ever have been
left out. We are a long way off to fulfill the girls’ dream. To make things
worse last year’s ‘O’ level results were a disaster that will reverberate
for years.

NECTA said about 4,470 girls have a chance of joining university but left
the masses to read between the line about the disparity between boy and girl
candidates.

Out of the 59,112 candidates registered for Form Six Exams, girls were
21,291 and boy 37, 821. Despite the girls being less-population, statistics
indicates they are more in numbers. This means the higher the ladder you go
more girls are being left out in the education system. Actually, the last
census says women constitute 51 per cent of the populace, and the percentage
is expected to shoot up in the next census.

We have the most hardworking girls in rural primary and secondary schools.
Apart from their duty to books and pen, the household chores they undertake
daily are so daunting and leave one with a bitter taste in the mouth. Some
fall along the way, because the society pushes them to early marriages and
slave like labour. Yet, despite the difficulties some are able to pass their
exams and reach university level.

I come from a rural area where boys have a right to education but for girls
it is a privilege. I see it every year at my village. After Class Seven
final exams, many girls get married off and other are sent to Dar es Salaam
to be employed as house-helps. For boys who are not able to make it, they
get a chance for vocational skills or are allowed to become farmers, some
move to Dar es Salaam, for jobs. Girls’ only one choice if not going on with
school is marriage, or eternal damnation as a reject.

Deep in the village, when girls hear of people like Dr Asha Migiro and
other contemporary Tanzanian women heroines, it sounds like fiction.

Yes, it is true today, unlike shortly after independence when only women in
politics like the late Bibi Titi were heroines, we have hundred of homegrown
women- teachers, doctors, scientists, nurses, technicians and so on, as role
models. Let me not mention names here.

What does this portend? If a million Asha Migiros had entered the university
at the same time, where could Tanzania be today? There are thousands girls,
some maybe were even smarter than Asha Migiro but had no chance to finish
primary education. Today they are languishing in poverty.

While I urge parent to educate their children–both boys and girls, I must
emphasize on the latter, where affirmative action is needed from ‘O’ level
to the university. Our girls must be encouraged to make SMART goals -
specific, measurable, attainable and realistic.

They say educate a woman, and you educate a nation. I have seen many men
lost in vanity, lost in drinking madness despite wearing degrees in their
heads. In my short experience I am yet to see a woman with a degree who is
lost.

*Saumu Jumanne is an assistant lecturer at DUCE (Dar es Salaam University
College of Education)

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