In the Footsteps of Malala
Elspeth Dugdale | March 10, 2021
"One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution. Education first."
Powerful sentences spoken by Malala Yousafzai at the United Nations in 2013 on her 16th birthday. Full of resonance and relevance then, they certainly ring true for any girl in Uganda, now in 2021.
For the Sarahs, the Christines, the Cates, the Jenefers, the Esthers, the Mercys, the Stellas, the Graces, the Phiebes, the Faiths, the Joans, the Shamims and the Glorias - education at WTA has proved, or is proving to be, the stepping stone they need to move up.
Whether that step is a vocational course, a university course, apprenticeship, working abroad, teacher training, nursing school, joining the police or starting a small business, education is the key to the 'next open door'.
Make no mistake, education is vital to moving out of the bondage of poverty for any student - male or female. However, for girls, the chains of poverty just wrap much more tightly around the girls' ankles: the likelihood of child marriage, unplanned/early pregnancy, increased child mortality, economic limitations, lack of employment potential, parental pressures - to name but a few of the extra difficulties most face.
And not forgetting the boys. Where are they now? Out of the 'pioneer class' of 2012, as they are known, many still stay in touch. Among them: entrepreneurs, nursery, primary & secondary teachers, radio DJs, police workers, soldiers, church workers, parents, singers, shop owners, farmers, social workers, overseas Masters' students, some running for local government.
Up to now, and due to Covid-19, most students in Uganda have not had one single day of lessons for a full 12 months. Now, as schools slowly start to open, class by class, the students need to come back as soon as possible. Partnering with WTA to 'bring them back' more quickly will help restore the imbalance and the injustice of being excluded from learning for so long.
One bag.. to hold the one pen and the one book. That's enough to get going.