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THE MAIN OBSTACLE TO GIRLS’ EDUCATION IN KENYA

“There is nothing that can stop me! I want to continue going to school for learning a Diploma of IT for as long as possible. I wish I could give my children a better life than mine. »

Pauline grew up in her family’s small hut in the very isolated Bondo district of western Kenya. At home, there was rarely more than one meal a day. Eldest of a family of 6 children, she was the first in her family to learn to read. Neither her mother nor her father had been to school for more than two years, but Pauline hoped for more.

From her first day of school for the Diploma of IT, Pauline was very enthusiastic and determined to learn, but at 13 years old, while she was in college, her parents were no longer able to pay for her studies and she was forced to leave school.

Even though elementary school is free in Kenya, the cost of buying books and uniforms and the fees imposed during examinations remain too high for the poorest families. Many children have to work to support their often large families. Education remains an unattainable luxury for them.

VICTIM OF BLACKMAIL, PAULINE SUFFERED AN EARLY PREGNANCY

When an older former classmate offered her money to pay for her studies, Pauline, desperate to be able to return to school, immediately accepted. But the man quickly forced her to have sex with him in exchange for this money.

Because of taboos around sexuality and the absence of sex education classes, young girls lack knowledge about consent and their right to say “no”, contraception, and the risks associated with sexuality. Pauline did not know how to defend herself and at the first signs of pregnancy, she did not understand what was happening to her.

9 months later her first daughter, Marie, was born

“I loved my daughter from the moment I had her in my arms but I was so unhappy when I became a mother. I just wanted to stay and keep going to school for the diploma of information technology. “, explains Pauline, tears in her eyes.

Her family, unable to support her financially, Pauline remained at the mercy of the father of her child. The man forced her to sleep with him in exchange for the money she needed to live on. Until she fell pregnant a second time, a year later. At 16, this second pregnancy took Pauline even further away from school.

BRING GIRLS BACK TO SCHOOL TO ENABLE THEM TO EMANCIPATE THEMSELVES

As her situation worsened, the support of those around her and the action of Plan International made it possible to change things. Her teacher, disappointed and worried about losing one of her best students, contacted the local Plan International office in Bondo. A member of our local team was then able to visit Pauline. A month later, thanks to our support, the girl returned to school.

We were able to get Pauline back on her way to school, by providing her school supplies and uniform and paying school fees, as part of our program for girls’ education. By visiting her regularly, our team makes sure that she and her children are well and gives her the support she needs.

Today, the two children live with their grandmother. Pauline sees them on weekends. During the week, she goes to school and works in the evenings as a housekeeper for a wealthy family in her village. She uses the money to help her children.

I can become a nurse

“I miss my children and they miss me too but I know it’s the right decision and I’m so happy to be able to go back to school. Now I just want to take care of myself and my family. I hope I can become a nurse, be able to support my children, and make them proud of me when they grow up. »

Like Pauline, thousands of girls are victims of early pregnancies that keep them away from school and their families. In the field, Plan International comes to the aid of these girls deprived of school, by raising their awareness of the risks of pregnancy and by helping them to finance their education.

read more: Charterhouse Malaysia: Behind a 400-year heritage and a future-ready education

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