Children all across Africa fear attending school because more oftentimes than not they battle against abuse, bullying, corporal punishment and sexual predators. A safe-haven outside of the home has transformed into an extremely negative environment for many children; it is therefore vital to protect children’s education in Africa.
Dangers to Young and Adolescent Girls in Schools
Young and adolescent girls are especially vulnerable at schools — they are susceptible to sexual predators, HIV/AIDS, violence through bullying and premature marriages. All of these variables, if experienced, can lead to a continuation of the poverty cycle.
Unfortuantely, girls who continue with their education face a higher chance of experiencing abuse somewhere during their educational career. In fact, girls who seek higher education who are in poverty are more likely to be sexually exploited by older men — they are likely to trade sexual activities for food, a mobile phone or school fees.
Bullying in African Schools
Bullying is also a significant concern for children’s education in Africa. Statistics from USAID taken from Botswana, Ghana and Southern African show that almost half of its children’s population suffer from bullying.
Further studies in Uganda displayed that 95.6 percent of children are bullied, and another 88.3 percent face corporal punishment.
Bullying creates a hostile environment where children do not feel safe and cannot focus on their school work. Further studies from the same experiment also show that children who do get bullied have lower reading and testing skills.
When children face obstacles such as bullying they will often come to possess a disinterest in continuing their education, and children who do not feel protected will only continue to live in poverty.
Association for the Development of Education in Africa Aid
Some programs strive to improve the academic system and protect children’s education. One of these organizations is the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA).
This group, which partners with the African ministries of education, aims to create crucial conversations between policymakers and development agencies. The organization strives to share ideas, knowledge and lessons learned for educational reforms, and also to directly combat variables such as violence within the African schooling system.
USAID contributes to protecting the education system as well by teaming with the African governments and working towards stopping gender-based violence in schools.
USAID also partners with the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief to help young women. They encourage girls to be Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored and Safe (DREAMS). The DREAMS organization also aids in violence prevention programs across the continent where girls are most likely to contract HIV/AIDS.
The Literacy Achievement and Retention Activity Aid
In Uganda, the Literacy Achievement and Retention Activity works to improve the overall education system. By working alongside the Ministry of Education, the organization protects children’s education by working to produce a safe and supportive school environment.
Studies demonstrate that Ugandan boys and girls tend to continue their education career as long as they feel secure and supportive. These organizations and programs are essential to protecting children’s education in Africa, and to ensuring a bright future for the generations to come.
– Cassidy Dyce