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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
May 6, 2024
Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
May 6, 2024
Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
May 6, 2024

Investigating the concept of education for girls only

By Rachel Glass and Kaitlyn Alsofrom

A few weeks ago, our friend Thabo told us about his plan for his would-be son. “On my son’s 18th birthday, I will buy him a car. A really nice car. But, it will have no tires. I want to give something nice, but he needs to learn how to work for things.” When we probed him about why he would do this for his son and not his daughter he remarked, “a girl can benefit from her education but boys have to learn to be hustlers.” His story reflects two important aspects of education in Lesotho—firstly, that while boys might be able to make a living without an education, girls have fewer options without one and secondly, that girls are sent to school more frequently than their brothers, a decision made by the family or supporting parental figure. The youth literacy rate in Lesotho is 91 percent among young women (ages 15-24) and 75 percent for young men. Lesotho is one of the few places in the world where literacy among women exceeds the literacy of men.

Girls at a magazine/newspaper club meeting – Contributed

Despite the fact that girls in Lesotho are sent to school in large numbers, the girls of St. Rodrigue know that their education, as girls, is an important and special thing. For this column, we asked the girls to choose the topic they wanted to write about. They agreed, as a group, that they wanted to write about girls in school—about their own educations, about St. Rodrigue as an all-girls’ atmosphere, and about the opportunities education provides for women.

Nthabiseng Leseo, a Form B1 (ninth grade) student wrote a poem entitled “Girls At School.” This poem summarizes the affectionate feelings that many of the St. Rodrigue girls harbor for their school.

When I talk of girls at school
I am talking about the school
Where there are girls only
Specifically St. Rodrigue High

Girls in St. Rods High School
Are those people who are
Longing, investigating, and they require something
We have a very serious purpose for being in this school

Having been given this wonderful
Opportunity to study
And being very excited and
So determined by this
Is the thing which brings us from far away places
From day to day to this wonderful place

Oh St. Rods, Ulti Mama, at home
Your comfort is the one I never met
Learning in a luxurious way
For there is nothing that causes
Confusion or any interruption

Imagine how the interruptions would be
If there were boys mixed with us
Boys, acting as the source of their teachers’ heart attacks
And their parents are always heart-broken

St Rods girls are longing
And investigating for education
Because we know that
By that, we are investigating our futures

In the passed generations, boys and gentlemen
Being honoured and privileged
But now and forever
Ladies and girls are the ones
Who will be given honour
Because we believe that its only
Through education that
We can pursue our dreams.

Mphaphathi Motinyane, another Form B1, wrote “Girls Being At School”

It is very essential for girls to be educated. For that matter, if they are not educated it would be very easy for them to face the problems and difficulties of this life. For girls to be successful, and concentrate on their duties they need to be alone, not to be mixed with boys. I think there should be schools for boys only and girls only. In the schools which are not mixed, the performance is very good.

The boys are the people who adore strikes a lot and force the girls to join them, this is where the problems begin. It is well known that if the girls do not want to be educated, they are the ones who will be in trouble in their future time. So it is very important for them to be educated because they are the ones who will recognize their kids’ needs. For instance, they are the ones who will purchase food, clothes, and many other things which are needed in life.

Another example is that of St. Rodrigue High School. It is found in the rural area. This school is for girls only. There are some girls who stay far away from that school and they wake up early to come to school for the purpose of the investigation of education. Some walk in the forest and dongas which are very strange simply because they need to be educated and be successful in life. In the forest and the dongas, there are wild animals which make their habitat.

Education will make it easier for them to raise their kids without disturbance. Nothing will confuse or condemn them. They will raise their children with good support and give them everything they need.

Beyond just loving their school, Mphaphati’s piece shows that these girls-in-school think about the opportunities that education will provide them with in their futures. As another one of the magazine club members stated “educated girls can overcome problems in life.”

Valentine Letsatsi, a Form D1 (11th grade) student further showed how the St. Rodrigue girls think about the importance of education in her article “Girls Should be Educated.”

Girls should be educated so that they can satisfy their needs. For example, they can be able to buy the clothes, motor vehicles, and other needs for their life. Educated girls have the opportunity to care for themselves, like treating their skin and having money for the medical doctors when they are sick so they do not rely on someone’s money for their needs. And they solicit the family without waiting for the man to buy the needs like furniture, food, and clothes for children.

Moreover, in the future, I would like to be a teacher because I want to help my parents with what I shall earn from teaching. It will be possible for me to plan my own life with my own salary without anyone telling me what to do with the money I earn. Like if you have a husband working and a girl who is not educated, he has the possibility to command what you do and what is not to be done.

I dislike suffering because of having no money because I want my life to be easy for me. My intention is to be educated and do everything for myself without depending on someone else. I don’t even want to rely on my parents because one day they might give up the ghost so I will be left alone and no one will help me. I would like to be educated so that life will be possible for me even if my parents have departed.

Despite the fact that literacy is high among women in Lesotho, the pieces that these girls have written reflect gender dynamics at play. The power dynamics between men and women was further reflected in our conversation about the topic “girls at school.” One of the magazine club members noted that “When girls are educated and married they get to make more decisions. Ninety percent of girls who are not educated have problems with their husbands. Their husbands can play with them because they don’t have money of their own.”

Meeting ones needs and self-dependence were hugely important to the girls we spoke with. One girl even used that very term, stating that, “my education is important because I want to have self-dependence. If I depend on someone else my needs will not be met.” A second student commented that, “If someone has a job, they have money to buy whatever they want with their own money. They don’t have to depend on someone else.”

When asking girls why they chose to come to St. Rodrigue High School, the fact that it is “for the girls only” consistently comes up on the list of responses. Being one of two all girls’ schools in Lesotho means that firstly, girls are coming from all parts of the country to attend this school and secondly, that girls’ education is personally important to them. The girls value girl’s education beyond just their own personal education: one of the magazine club members noted that, “I want to be a teacher so I can help my parents and also teach girls how to solve problems in life. I want to teach girls only!”

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