This year will mark the beginning of my daughters education. September 17th is her very first day of preschool and we couldn’t be more excited. But it hasn’t been an easy road. From finding preschools in my area, interviews, the agonizing decisions of choosing the best fit for her it was a trying process but alas we did it. Last week was the school open house where we met her teacher, familiarized herself with the classroom and even met a few peers. While she happily munched on milk and cookies we filled out form after form. Finally, all of the tediousness is past and we’ve been focused on fun back to school rituals. We’ve shopped until my husband’s wallet groaned and I’ve been busy scoring Pinterest for crafty “First Day of School” photo projects.
Meanwhile, thousands of miles and half a world away families are doing things a little differently. There is no “agonizing” decision process, no open house, no first day of school pictures. In fact, there is no preschool at all. There is NO SCHOOL AT ALL. A staggering 130 million children around the world are not in school—70% are girls.
I can’t say I take my daughters education for granted. I know it’s value, it’s worth. But I think at times we all take for granted the availability of such a system. We take advantage of the fact that we can afford to be choosey about our school system. If we can afford it we send our kids to charters, to private institutions. If not our kids have the option of a free public school system.
Unfortunately education is not free in Sub-Saharan Africa- even public schools have big costs including fees, uniform, books, food, shoes, extra teacher payments – the list is endless and the cost can be staggering for families who can barely afford to make ends meet as it is. Studies have shown that the number one reason that African families do not send their children to school is lack of financial resources. The second reason is lack of access to education facilities in rural communities- governments are not able to fund school construction to meet the demand.
Opportunity International’s Invest in One Child campaign
Opportunity International is working to ensure children in countries like Chana, Uganda, Malawi, and The Dominican Republic have access to an education through school fee loans. These loans allow parents to afford their child’s tuition and change their future.
A girl with an extra year of education can earn 20% more as an adult. (World Bank) Educated mothers are more than twice as likely to send their children to school.(UNICEF)