About International Day of Education
If you have access to a good education, then you have the tools to propel your life forward. Knowledge acquired leads to better living, good jobs, financial stability, a higher quality of life, and so on. It is instrumental to our lives and is a basic human right that must be enjoyed by all and deprived to none.
January 24th has been recognised as International Day of Education by the United Nations General Assembly to celebrate the role that education plays in fostering peace and development. We must acknowledge that we will not achieve gender equality, and the poverty cycle will remain unbroken if quality education continues to be exclusive and inequitable ensuring that millions of children, young adults and adults do not progress.
As of today, the number of children and teenagers who still do not attend school is 258 million. Let that sink in. When it comes to basic reading and mathematic skills, 617 million children and teenagers don’t have the knowledge to do either. In sub-Saharan Africa, the percentage of girls who complete lower secondary school is less than 40%, and the number of young refugees that drop out is 4 million! Their right to education has been violated, and these numbers are damning evidence that we are just not doing enough about it.
24th Jan as International Day of Education, aims to spotlight the fact that education enables learning and positive change. When more people are educated, more people better lives and ensure that they pass on quality education to the next generation. However, due to social, cultural and economic factors, many people across the world are deprived of education. This is why it has been internationally recognised as essential for the successful outcomes of all 17 sustainable development goals. In fact, the 4th goal is “to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and to promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” by the year 2030.
Education and Menstruation in India
The number of girls who go to school is significantly lower than that of boys, and a large part of it is thanks to menstruation. Poverty, taboos and lack of information and education about menstrual products and menstrual hygiene are some issues that young girls and women face. However, the irony is if they had access to quality education (and in turn, more conscious menstrual care facilities) in schools, they would be adequately equipped to deal with the challenges of menstruation as well as improve their attendance at school. Improving the education system in India in both urban and rural areas will have a positive impact on young menstruators, It will also play a significant role in closing the gender equality gap for young girls and boys in terms of education.
Reasons why girls don’t go to school:
Value of girls – When it comes to acceptance and value, there is more importance placed on boys than on girls in Indian society. Often, especially in rural areas, education is seen as an investment only with regards to boys. Unfortunately, giving the same opportunity to a girl is seen as a financial burden, and a lower priority as boys are expected to provide financial security for the parents when they become older.
Safety at school – Young girls are vulnerable to sexual aggressions that can be caused anywhere like on the road on the way to school, or inside the school campus by their male classmates, teachers and support staff. So the effort is not worth it for all the potential rapes and molestations that occur so frequently. Staying at home is safer.
Extreme poverty – Sometimes children are so impoverished that despite minimal fees, they cannot afford the supplemental costs such as that of uniforms, books, stationery and transport. Also when you weigh the cost/benefit of going to school versus that of child labour where there is pay, most low-income families would prefer putting their children to work in less than ideal work situations if it means that there is more food to put on the table.
Sanitation at school – Not having access to separate toilets for young girls increases risks of attacks and also becomes an issue when they are menstruating. So again, the preference is to stay at home is higher.
Child marriage and early pregnancy – Globally, 12 million girls are married off before they turn 18 every single year, and these are the girls who are more than likely to drop out of school. These girls are also very likely to be pregnant at an early age. The practice of child marriage really needs to be abolished. Instead, every girl should be able to focus on her education, which will, in time, lead her to a job that may help her family’s financial situation very much (probably a lot more than getting her married off!)
Being a social initiative working to provide safe, sanitary solutions to young women in rural areas across India, GiveHer5 works towards a brighter future of thousands of women across the country. With the help of donations, we provide reusable and affordable sanitary solutions to women who would otherwise resort to unhygienic and harmful alternatives. Aside from better hygiene practices, having access to affordable menstrual products means that young girls and women do not have to miss school anymore.
Visit www.giveher5.org for more.
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