April 2016

Francesca Temitope Danmole addressing All-Party Parliamentary Group on Global Education

When I was 3 years old, I wanted to be a Milkman – I loved Postman Pat and just believed that if I became a Milkman he would know me, and we’d be friends. When I was 8, my teacher Ms. Kadri, dissected a Lamb’s heart as part of a science lesson. From that, I decided that one day I would grow up, become a doctor and go into far parts of the world to build orphanages and women’s refuges.  I do not know how I connected the two but that  is what I told everyone I would do. 

When I was 19, my family became homeless on the day I was due to sit one of my A level exams but I did not panic. You see, I knew I could make it up in my other exams and would still be able to go to university. Never at any of those points in my life, did I fear that my dreams were not valid because of where I was born. Neither, did I ever believe that I would not be able to finish school because my family could not afford it.

This is not the case for over 31 million girls in the world.  That is the last reported number of girls of primary school age out of school. That’s 31 million individual people who may not learn to read, or write, or see the world in colour because of conflict and poverty. Poverty forces girls into child labour and justifies child marriage. I have a problem with that. 

Girls’ education is crucial – when you educate a girl you actually change a community, a 2014 UNICEF report tells us that:

If all women in sub-Saharan Africa completed their primary education, maternal mortality would fall by 70%.

If all girls had secondary education in sub-Saharan Africa and South and West Asia, child marriage would fall by 64%.

In 2014, Chibok and Peshawar were home to some of the most violent attacks on education and the World was appalled. Focusing, specifically, on Chibok for moment - when over 200 girls where abducted from their school, Nigeria was thrust into the spotlight. A country that, according to UNESCO, already had over 10.5 million children not receiving basic education - that number quickly increases when you take into account the number of children who are undereducated and those with special educational needs… a country where more than half of that number are girls – the abduction of the Chibok girls 729 days ago, is actually part of a wider issue. 

I have been passionate about girls’ education for a while but in the last 4 years my reason had a face. Balaraba Sidi was 14 when I first started volunteering for a charity called Path to Possibilities. It’s a UK based charity campaigning for quality access to education in Nigeria – as well as providing resources and scholarships for students, and building classrooms and boreholes for schools. Balaraba is a recipient of one of our scholarships and after 2 years at secondary school her father wanted to withdraw her from school – his family were putting pressure on him to marry her off. She is now 18, getting ready to graduate and her family still threaten to withdraw her – her only protection? The fact that she is in school.

There are many girls like Balaraba around the world, and it gives me great hope that I am part of a global campaign with fellow advocates who are unrelenting in their cause for girls like Balaraba. Who ensure that the future of children in school is not determined by a trending hashtag – they are committed to the cause. A World at School binds us together and amplifies our noise into one loud united voice saying – World leaders must do more. They must do more for girls’ education; they must do more for 37 million children who have been forced out of school because of emergencies; A World at School's Safe Schools campaign is urging World leaders, including the UK Government, to ensure adequate funding for a new platform for education emergencies. 

Shockingly, only 1.4% of all humanitarian aid goes on education. World Leaders must do more to provide safe schools, hope and a future.

Education rewrites the code that poverty has prescribed.

Education empowers people to rewrite the code that culture has prescribed.

Education gives people choices – choices enables them to change their World.

There are girls and boys around the world who are waiting for someone to see them, will you see them tonight and pick up there cause?

Just £7.50 a month will buy all the books required for a student for a year

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