Children's Corner with PANIC CHILUFYA
EDUCATION is the most important tool for any meaningful development to take place because it acts as a catalyst for empowerment and strengthens nations. It serves as a powerful equaliser that opens doors and helps to break the cycle of poverty, especially for girls who are often most vulnerable due to various reasons.
Institutions of higher learning, including the University of Zambia (UNZA), have recognised that educating more girls and women has a positive bearing on all sectors of a country. This was apparent during last week’s 47th graduation ceremony at UNZA where 5,951 students graduated, representing 54 percent females and 46 percent males; a marked increase from 5,242 students who graduated last year.
Educating girls and women has a multiplier effect for any community for a number of reasons such as:
When more girls are educated, it helps to reduce all forms of inequality because illiteracy is one of the strongest predictors of poverty. Having an education equips girls with power to participate in development and growth processes that affect them; education is actually a great leveller.
Countless studies have shown that investing in girls’ education yields great dividends because the advantages go beyond individual status and achievement. When an entire generation of girls is educated, the trickle turns into enormous possibilities for not only the family, but the community, society and nation as well.
For example, a girl with formal education is more likely to appreciate the advantages of staying in school longer and will often not fall victim to early marriage or teenage pregnancy. And as a mother, she is more likely to send her children to school because she understands the opportunities that education opens. In fact, every additional year of education completed by a girl translates into her children remaining in school for an additional one-third to one-half year, which is often not the case when a mother has little or no education.
Having the necessary education greatly benefits the personal health of girls so that they are able to make informed decisions that affect sexual reproductive and health rights, including how to protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV and AIDS. It also helps to improve child mortality and welfare through better nutrition and higher immunisation rates. They tend to have better knowledge about health care practices, they tend to have fewer, better-spaced pregnancies, and seek pre- and post-natal care at the right time.
It is estimated that an additional year of school for 1,000 girls helps to prevent at least two maternal deaths that are likely to happen if a mother does not have adequate education. It is estimated that when a girl stays in school for an extra one year, this helps to reduce fertility by 10 percent because of the value a girl attaches to being educated.
When more girls acquire higher literacy rates and education levels, they are likely to participate in governance issues and decision-making processes that not only affect them but also those less fortunate; thereby ensuring gender equality and equity in all sectors of society. High literacy level also leads to marked economic growth because it contributes to improved productivity, which in turn leads to higher income and improved economic performance and poverty reduction.
With such deliberate initiatives in the education sector to empower more girls and women, Zambia is likely to achieve goal number five of the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, which promises equal rights for everyone in the family, community, society and nation.
Remember, children are our future. Have a fruitful and productive 2018.
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