78% illiterate or semi-literate
Education is a key for human rights, but girls have little or no access
Traditionally girls are supposed to work and bear babies. Boys come first, and only gradually have parents come to consider it worthwhile to give daughters any formal schooling. Education is not free and most families cannot afford to send all their children. Education is also not standardized, so attending school does not guarantee literacy. Health problems and weakness from hunger, lack of supplies or intermittent absences when there is a death in the family or no means to pay the month’s fees: all conspire to keep many young people functionally illiterate. State examinations – for which the student pays a hefty price – are scheduled at the end of elementary and secondary school, and these are the only recognized criteria of a successful education. Forms of state exams are available also for apprenticeships such as sewing. The WHO Statistical Information System reveals that 29.9% of girls have no formal schooling; 47.9% only elementary; 23.8% secondary; 1.4% higher. Mean years of schooling: 4.5.
“Nicole” began primary school but her parents were divorced; her mother remarried and more siblings were born. Her father died and there was no more money for school; then both her mother and her step-father died, leaving her destitute. Besides the challenges of hunger and grief, she was also essentially illiterate; her fourth grade education was so poor that she could not read or write. Then she heard about the sewing school run by Woman Cradle of Abundance, and Nicole found a new life. She has learned to read, write, and do math well, to care for herself with practical life skills. And she has learned to sew! She is so happy she bubbles over as she describes the lovely clothes she is making!