Educating Girls Impacts Generations
“If we educate a boy, we educate one person. If we educate a girl, we educate a family – and a whole nation.” —African Proverb
Helping impoverished and disadvantaged girls receive an education is something very important to us here at L’ecole Dinaus Mixed School. Of our currently enrolled 138 students, eighty are female — that means that approximately 58% of our population is female and we hope to continue to grow that number.
While helping ALL Haitian children obtain a free education will continue to be our mission, we recognize that girls have the odds stacked against them before they ever walk through our doors — so we want to make sure we do everything we can to get girls enrolled and ensure we keep them in school once they’ve started.
There are a few key factors that make it harder for girls to obtain an education, even when it’s free.
Young girls often need to help support the family
In developing countries like Haiti, young girls are often required to spend their days doing things like collecting water or caring for their siblings, simply so their family can survive. When families are forced to exist in survival mode, they simply don’t have the luxury of focusing on things like education because necessity doesn’t allow for it.
Lack of money, access, or understanding
Another hurdle, of course, is cost. In Haiti, 90% of the schools are private and not funded by the government. This means that unless you can pay, your children don’t get to go to school. If it weren’t for foundations like the LDE who work endlessly to provide free education to impoverished children, the opportunity to attend school simply wouldn’t exist.
Sometimes, the cost is not the issue and it comes back to a lack of understanding the value of an education. When entire families and generations have existed without any formal education, how can you expect people to understand what it is and how it could benefit their families?
Then, there’s access. In countries where the government doesn’t value or support education, particularly in rural areas, there simply aren’t schools to attend — free or not.
Reaching puberty puts disadvantaged girls at risk
One of the major problems with keeping girls in school once they’ve started is puberty. In developed countries, we can’t even fathom a young girl missing school or even dropping out due to getting her period, but it’s something that happens all the time when girls don’t have access to much-needed sanitary products and bathrooms at school.
In countries where running water and plumbing are considered luxuries, it’s commonplace for girls to withdraw from school once they reach puberty because they simply have no other alternative. Without access to menstruation products, toilets, and running water, getting an education appears unattainable to young women.
Helping disadvantaged girls stay in school
We hope to keep spreading the message and educating anyone who is willing to listen on how crucial it is that girls be allowed and encouraged to not only attend primary but continue through to secondary school.
It’s true that if you want to invest in a nation, you need to invest in education. Numbers don’t lie, and the data shows that drastic economic benefits occur when girls are educated.
Educating girls translates into:
- A decrease in both maternal and infant mortality rates
- Fewer child marriages
- Fewer girls becoming victims of sexual and domestic abuse
- An increase in female political involvement
- Increased socio-economic growth
Here at L’ecole Dinaus Mixed, we have just recently obtained running water — a MAJOR milestone and something we are beyond grateful for. It never would have happened without the incredible support from our community here at home and the JD Sheth Foundation.
That’s just one thing we’re doing to help ensure the girls that start with us STAY with us and continue to receive the life-changing benefits of formal education.
Here at L’ecole Dinas Mixed, our mission is to provide free education to Haitian children who are eager to learn and gain the skills required to lead healthy, productive lives. Our program shines a light on the poorest country in the Western hemisphere and empowers disadvantaged children to break the cycle of poverty.