Roba is a 15-year-old girl, who is now in Grade 3. Roba has one younger sister and one younger brother, both of whom participate in a local alternative basic education program. When her parents are asked who made the decision for Roba to go to school, her father says, “First Allah, then Roba decided that she should go to school. We agreed with her.”
Roba's absuma, her cousin who has traditional marriage rights to her, did not want Roba to go to school. Though he is a child himself, his wishes would traditionally have been followed regarding his future wife. Roba's parents talked with his parents, and they finally agreed that both children should go to school.
Roba's family moves seasonally with their herds. Roba's father says that “Even during migration, we facilitate our movement considering Roba's schooling. We leave her enough food if we move without her.”
Roba's father is passionate about education. He says that “Education benefits the person and his/her family in terms of economy. She is protected from domination because of her education. An educated person protects not only him/herself but also others. Instead of having 1000 livestock, it is better to have education. People say, ‘We are wealthy', but wealth is of Allah, and the right wealth is education and knowledge”.
He is convinced that education is especially important for girls: “According to our culture boys have many options, if they encounter problems they can go to their clan and share from their clan and so that solves their problems. If I do not exist, no one will support Roba, even if I die, she isn't entitled to inherit my livestock with her brothers. In this regard, she has to get educated to protect herself. That is why I prefer to send girls, but I suggest that both sexes should be educated.”
The research team asked Roba's father how he would advise families who want to send their children but have difficulty. He would tell them, “The challenges you are telling me exist everywhere and live with everybody. Your livestock has been killed by drought while you are alive. The only chance you have is educating your children. If not, it is like leaving your children in strong sunlight in plain land. The sunlight is burning them as you have already been burned. If you educate your children while you are alive, it is like they are under shade even after your death.”
Dermi is 14 years old. She has three younger sisters and three younger brothers. All five children, including Dermi, are in school. When her parents are asked why they decided to send Dermi to school, her mother says, “Because an educated person is always gaining while an uneducated one is always losing.”
Dermi's parents are worried that Dermi may elope with a boy from school. They have trouble meeting school expenses and costs for clothing and soap. They worry about how they will support all of their children to finish school. They face these challenges by encouraging Dermi to stay in school, by selling grain and borrowing money.
Dermi also faces challenges. She has to do house work before and after school, in addition to her schoolwork. She feels bad about not having good clothes and the right school supplies. She has received a letter from a classmate requesting a “sexual friendship.” Dermi overcomes these challenges by keeping her morale up, sharing one pen with her sisters, and working for daily wages during school breaks.
Dermi's mother says that she has tried advising other parents to send their children to school, but “Since education is a long process, I can't convince them because people are focused on immediate results.”
Hanan is a 12 year old who is in Grade 2. Two of Hannan's older brothers have also attended a couple of years of schooling, but they both had to drop out to work. Hanan has one younger sister, and the three young children of her deceased aunt also live with her family.
Hanan's younger sister, age 10, went to school for a while, but she stopped going because she had a hard time concentrating and keeping still. Her parents say it is because “when she (the younger sister) is hungry she is hard to contain.” Hanan's parents would like to send her sister again, but are not sure how to resolve the hunger/concentration issue.
When Hanan's parents are asked why they sent Hanan, they say, “We understand that it is only by education, not by labor, that real change comes to life. We have seen people with education, where they have reached. We want Hanan to reach wherever Ethiopia reaches.”
A big challenge that Hanan's family faces is that her father is too ill to work. Her mother supports the family economically, including her deceased sister's children. Hanan helps her mother as much as she can. Her mother says, “Without telling her, Hanan when she comes back from school, she just picks up with whatever house work is left, so that helps me a lot. Whatever hardship me or her father goes through we will handle it. We just want her to go to school and be somebody later in life.”
When asked what they would advise parents of girls regarding education, Hanan's mother says, “Both boys and girls need to be educated. Because even our religion tells us that male and female are equal. And I gave birth to both my boys and girls in the same way.”
PD Quotes from the Field
“PD is like a flashlight. It helps to shine light and illuminate what hides behind the darkness. It helps us discover what already exists. For example, it helps us discover our existing strengths we had not realized or utilized.”
~a kader, Kedoyo, Indonesia
“The PD approach is like digging with a hoe. One needs to turn the soil over to see what lies hidden and buried beneath. Then the land is ready to plant new crops.”
~Raymond, community leader in Pader District, Indonesia