The Role of Women and Parenting in Girls’ Education
May 21, 2018
It is hard to dispute that gender disparity in education no longer exists when one realizes that of the 793 million illiterate people in the world, two-thirds are female. Likewise, it would be difficult to challenge the importance of providing girls with an education, as we know that educating females is the most powerful and effective way to address global poverty. Educated mothers are more likely to educate their own children – ending the cycle of illiteracy in one generation. What is perhaps less definitive is how best to tackle this issue. With many barriers facing girls in the developing world that go far beyond simple economics, including cultural bias, tradition and safety concerns, the answer is admittedly not simple. Yet, for many areas in the world, one of the answers may lie in the synergy of parental support and the support of women in their families and communities.
Parental involvement plays a paramount role in shaping girls’ expectations for themselves and deciding how long they will remain in school. As a Fellow of Teach For Nepal, a movement of young leaders working to ensure quality education to children in public school, I have had the great fortune of meeting many parents during my Fellowship. While of varying culture, a common thread unites them all – a strong commitment to supporting their daughters’ education. Even when the prevailing culture may not place a high value on girls’ education, and despite the fact that they may not have been personally afforded such opportunities when they were young, many parents still remain steadfastly committed to the dream of having their daughters receive a quality education, and seeing them graduate from secondary school and perhaps even attending a university.
In Shree Secondary School, Mithileswar, Dhanusha, a mother shared with me, “I am illiterate. I don’t want her to have the same fate. I don’t have an inheritance for her. I can now dream of my only daughter going for higher studies, getting a job and earning her own money. She won’t have to live like us. I know only that knowledge will be a priceless and lifelong gift for her.”
Parents’ commitment to their daughter’s education may also be reflected in other ways. I have visited some of the homes of our girl students and been inspired to meet parents who have shown their commitment by utilizing the very best space in their small family home to create a study area. Additionally, despite the challenge of long work hours and distances to their daughters’ schools, 62 percent of parents and guardians find a way to attend parent meeting offered through our school among which maximum numbers of the guardian are most often women.
As a teacher of more than 200 bacchas (kids), I have been humbled to witness the extraordinary lengths taken by parents and women in the communities around Dhanusha to ensure a girl’s education, despite the odds. Today, I salute not only dedicated mothers everywhere but all women who recognize that a mother’s hope starts with education and devote a part of themselves every day to ensure this for the girls in their lives and communities.
* This article can also be read at Amita Sharma blog on Medium. Click Here
|Amita Sharma is one of the 111 Fellows who is in her second year of Teach For Nepal Fellowship. Prior to joining Teach For Nepal Fellowship, she completed her Bachelor's of Law from Nepal Law Campus. She is currently teaching English in Shree Secondary School (Mithileshwar) in Mithileshwar, Dhanusa. You can sponsor Fellows like her by donating to Teach For Nepal.|