Educating girls can save millions of lives!

Girls need education as much as boys

130 million girls across the globe are not in school. If this were a country, it would be the 10th largest nation in the world!

Alarming right? Fortunately girl’s education in Knysna is making great strides towards equality. KILT is targeting many of the factors that deny Knysna’s girl children an equitable route to education and empowerment.

KILT is inviting girls to participate in curricular and extracurricular activities that challenge discriminatory narratives and open up new opportunities.

From a young age gender biases dictate what many girls should and should not do, limiting their future options.

Many gender stereotypes are still embedded in our classrooms, school playgrounds and sports fields. Girls are often discouraged from taking certain subjects or participating in sports that would elevate them academically and economically.

In 2021 KILT had 51 children enroll in our LEGO Robotics programme. This project encourages girls to choose STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) subjects in Gr 10 – 12 and to consider careers in these disciplines. Of these 51 children, 26 were girls — an encouraging 51 percent!

In the same year, bold steps were taken by getting girls involved in male-dominated sports. We focused on cricket, which isn’t traditionally seen as a girls’ sport. Although interest was gradual, girls did get involved and soon they were batting and bowling alongside the boys.

At KILT we do not discriminate, we involve all eligible children regardless of gender. We are focused on enabling all children, including girls to complete a full 12 years of quality education. We are empowering girls to speak up for their human rights and establish the self-confidence needed to take control of their own lives.

A report by Plan International suggests that failing to educate girls to the same level as boys costs developing countries, like South Africa, billions each year. In fact if only 10 percent more girls attended school, our GDP would increase by three percent.

Far too often it is girls who are forced to drop out of school to care for family members and raise younger siblings.  The World Bank Group cited that if every girl completed a primary education in sub-Saharan Africa, maternal mortality could decrease by a dramatic 70 percent. While girls with a secondary education are up to six times more likely to avoid childhood marriage.

According to the Global Citizen, women with a high-school education are less likely to experience gender-based violence and less dependent on men. Similarly, men with at least a secondary education are less likely to enact violence.

Our school safety programme is working hard to build safer schools and reduce disruption, vandalism and violence by creating a protected and preserved learning environment. As a result, by the end of the programme’s first year, no cases of gang activity were reported  — in sharp contrast to previous years.

At KILT we are seeing elevated numbers of female participants in our learner counseling, mentorship, remedial support, reading with comprehension, after school study clubs and sports programmes.

Educated women who head households understand the value of schooling and are more likely to place priority on health care and providing education to their families. Meaning girls’ education can quite literally save millions of lives!

KILT continues to prioritize reaching the remaining out-of-school kids. It’s our hope that improving access to equitable education can change the lives of those we educate as well as the families and communities that surround them.

Young girls hold the power to reimagine the way forward. Rising as an indestructible force that will set the course for transformation. Irrepressible women serve as role models, breadwinners, mentors, and guardians, mothers, sisters and daughters to those who walk in the wake of their fervid footsteps.

Educating a girl doesn’t just benefit her — it benefits us all. This is an investment that could quite literally change the world we live in.

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