All this week and last, kids have been steadily making their way back to school for another year of learning and growing as individuals. In our neck of the woods, the last of the summer stragglers will return to the classroom after Labor Day, thus completing this year’s transition from the lazy days of summer to early mornings, books, and homework.
When I was a kid, I anticipated going back to school. First day of school pictures captured my gap-toothed grin that couldn’t possibly get any wider as my hands clutched onto a brand new backpack and lunchbox. I liked going to school, and I liked learning new things. As I got older, my love for the school establishment diminished, but my hunger for knowledge stayed very much the same.
Whether I anticipated or dreaded heading back to school, one thing is abundantly clear as I look back on my school career now — I was lucky. I was lucky to have the opportunity to experience back to school season every year; to attend a school within walking distance of my home; to learn from wise teachers who took the responsibility of my impressionable brain seriously.
Many girls around the world are not as lucky as I have been. Today, there are an estimated 31 million primary-school-age girls who face daunting barriers that keep them from attending school and receiving an education. Though hungry to learn, these young girls face gender discrimination, the burden of being responsible for household chores, lack of access to transportation to get to the nearest school, or are forced to marry way too soon.
The state of girls’ education in the developing world is both shocking and humbling:
- Keeping girls out of school sentences them to a life of poverty and poor health
- Women earn 10-20% more for every year of school completed
- Children of educated mothers are 2x as likely to go to school
- Children born to literate moms are 50% more likely to survive past the age of 5
CARE, a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty with a commitment to empowering women and girls, is working to remove the barriers to education that are keeping millions of girls who are hungry to learn away from school. One of the ways in which they are succeeding is at the CARE-supported Udaan residential school in Hardoi, India, where girls like Laxmi Pal aren’t only creating art, but also history.
12-year-old Laxmi grew up believing that she did not belong in school. Instead, her days were filled with housework and looking after her younger siblings while her mother was away cleaning houses and her father struggled to find seasonal work on farms. In her rural farming village, girls typically marry and move out of their family’s home at 14. Laxmi became the only member of her immediate family to ever go to school when she began attending Udaan. Their program is giving adolescent girls who had either never been enrolled in school or were forced to drop out a second chance to learn through an accelerated bridge course. After, Laxmi and girls like her can be mainstreamed into a government school to continue their education.
Invest in a Girl’s Future
Education is an investment that pays off now and for generations to come. You can help CARE’s mission to eliminate barriers to education for millions of girls by purchasing a Gift of Lasting Change. Browse CARE’s catalog of back to school gifts to support their work in promoting girls’ education.
Some of the gifts you can give are:
- $10 cash donation
- School uniforms for 2 girls ($38)
- 2 pairs of school shoes ($30)
- Backpack and school starter kit ($26.10)
- 3 feminine hygiene kits for teen girls ($30)
This back to school season, help make a difference in the lives of girls around the world with CARE.
Top photo: Josh Estey/CARE