Education empowers girls with confidence and independence. It provides girls with a path out of poverty, and it gives girls hope for a better life. Education is a silver bullet for empowering girls. Education is the ANSWER.
But girls need access to education. The primary barriers preventing girls’ access to education are lack of schools, distance to schools, conflict, hunger and poor nutrition, school fees, disabilities, and being the ‘wrong’ gender.
Even when girls have access, they are pulled out of school to help care for their families. They may be passionate about achieving an education, but they must balance that passion with family responsibilities.
Ja Seng Mai understands this balancing act. Ja Seng Mai, 19 years old, is the eldest of five children, living in Myitkyina, Kachin State, Myanmar.
“Even though I want to study and learn different subjects and attend the trainings like my other friends, my mom cannot afford to support all of us. Sometimes I feel angry and complain about my life and think why I can’t be like other people.”
Ja Seng Mai wants to be a good daughter and help her mom and siblings. So she works as a sales girl at the local Padonmar Store. In the evenings and weekends, she studies university courses online. She is now in her third year towards a zoology degree. However, these distance learning programs do not provide sufficient qualifications to obtain professional careers.
Recently, Ja Seng Mai was accepted into an exciting new program – Tech Age Girls (TAG). TAG is being implemented in Myanmar by IREX in partnership with Myanmar Book Aid and Preservation Foundation. Ja Seng Mai is one of 5 girls, ages 16-20, in Myitkyina to be selected to learn digital skills and leadership skills. During this time Ja Seng Mai will continue her sales job during the weekdays to help support her family.
The program runs for one year. During the first phase of 6 months, girls learn coding and data security skills. At that point, 3 of the girls are selected to move on to Phase 2 to learn online content skills and connect with female mentors. Finally, one girl is selected to advance to Phase 3 to attend basic ICT (information and communication technology) skills training. This finalist then conducts a community project using her newly developed skills.
By 2020, 85-90% of new jobs in Myanmar will require digital skills. Ja Seng Mai is obtaining valuable marketable skills to enable her to obtain a professional job. Her dedication to a pursuit of education is paying off for her.
Ja Seng Mai says, “I feel happy that I can help my mom to earn money.” At the same time, Ja Seng Mai is VERY happy to learn digital skills through the TAG program. She works hard to balance these two important priorities in her life.
ALL girls deserve access to education.
If you want to empower girls to achieve their right to education:
- join Girls Globe conversations on Twitter @GirlsGlobe
- become a champion for girls’ and women’s rights
- donate to Educational Empowerment, and
- let your voice be heard for girls worldwide!
EE empowers women and girls in SE Asia through education and equal opportunity, with a vision of improving socio-economic opportunity and creating gender parity. Please visit us at www.educationalempowerment.org and follow us on Facebook, Twitter @EEmpower, and on Instagram.