On November 10th I attended the Ghana Field School Students Colloquium event at KPU. They talked about the opportunities for participants to understand, through a first-hand study, the social cultural and environmental factors that impinge upon sustainable development in Ghana and their implications for community education and development. Where in that the field study would provide opportunities for studying physical and social environmental issues such as loss of wild lands, deforestation, bush-fires, land degradation, desertification, pollution, damage due to mining activities, social policies and culture. Exposing participants to, poverty situations, social and cultural life styles, historical facts and notable ecological and historical monuments of Ghana.
Despite national and international guarantees of gender equality and the right to education, girls still face more obstacles to attending school, and being safe once there, than do their male counterparts. While many students in Ghana don’t have money to pursue an education, girls here must contend with the assumption that they don’t merit one. From an early age, girls realize that education holds the promise of a new life. The girls who do finally make it to school have to contend with new peers that would be avoidable if their right to education was prioritized or even properly recognized by society.
There were 4 Ghanaian girls that came to share their personal stories of how the got treated in school and the differences between girls and boys. One of the girls said that growing up in poverty is very hard, they had no food and lost her dad. Having four other siblings their mother could not afford to support them, saying that “Somedays we didn’t have food for days”. It was even harder because her mother was not educated. Another girl had five other siblings, her brothers would go to school, and she wanted to go as well but couldn’t because she would be married off into another family. Doing so she would be “in the house getting fire wood, taking care of the house”, therefore it would be a waste if her family sent her to school but her parents did send her. The girls explained that in Ghana each child is worth $200 for high school which is very expensive. Before when they’re moms were girls, they would be locked up in rooms so they were not allowed to leave the house and go to school. They want people to help them support younger generations to be successful and to become something especially girls. Girls are being shut down from the boys, it is not fair. It is discrimination, injustice to girls and they need to speak out.
In my opinion, I think that Gender socialization is the overarching cause of the gender gap in primary and secondary education. Girls are affected by sexual and gender based violence, early marriages, and child and domestic labour at a disproportionately higher rate than boys, thereby falling further behind their peers and subjected to additional discriminatory practices within the classroom. Sexual and gender based violence continues to be a significant obstacle to girls education, particularly for mature girls attempting to pursue secondary education. Parallel to the issue of sexual harassment by male teachers and classmates, it forces girls to withdraw or even avoid further educational opportunities. When girls are not forced to marry at an early age, gender socialization ensures that families invest the financial expense of education in sons rather than daughters, based on the idea that education for the girl child is a waste with eventual marriage inevitable. In addition for this problem to end would be to increasing the number of female teachers because female teachers provide crucial role models for girls, particularly when images of women in school curricula reinforce traditional gender roles. Girls look up to female teachers as figures of inspiration and emotional support, in addition to providing guidance for their education and future.
At the end of the event I learned that we need to appreciate the need for people to live at peace with nature by undertaking conservative measures to protect the environment, understand the need for environmental education as a key to the achievement of sustainable development in Ghanaian communities and be able to recognize varying social and cultural life styles of the people and how they relate to sustainable development and poverty issues.