Nokuphila School Learners on the Importance of Education
Education has the power to create a better life
Since the start of the pandemic, 60% of children born in Gauteng were to teen mothers. Statistics show that between April 2020 and March 2021, 23,000 girls in Gauteng under the age of 18 became teenage mothers. The reality is that these girls often are forced to drop out of school, and this perpetuates the cycle of poverty. Sentle Windvoel and Bonisile Nyathela, grade 7 students from The Love Trust’s Nokuphila Primary School, share some critical advice for young girls, who like them, face high school, a new chapter in their schooling career.
After graduating from Nokuphila Primary School at the end of this year, the next step in their lives is a bit scary as it comes with a lot of unknowns, hidden challenges, and temptations. Both girls agree that having a good education is the best way to shape a career and achieve a bright future.
Navigating high school
In order to navigate the new journey, the girls plan to observe and keep a diary to reflect back on all the challenges they’ve overcome and to keep them motivated through the coming obstacles. Fortunately, during this time of transition from primary school to high school, the two young girls have each other for support, an important relationship to hold on to.
The main focus is improving their grades and focusing on their academics. Secondly, they want to connect with their peers and learn about each other’s cultures and beliefs. And thirdly, they want to empower other girls through sharing their knowledge and experiences.
The importance of girls getting educated
Both of these young women believe that through education, girls gain a greater world view and understanding of not just themselves (such as what they want to achieve in life) but the world around them. It boosts their confidence and through empowerment they can achieve change because they’ll have more and better choices and as well as better discretion when those decisions are made. This is extremely important as Bonisile points out, girls are often the victims and target of gender-based violence, body shaming, and bullying. This breaks down a person’s self-esteem, something that is absolutely crippling to the spirit and psyche. Through education and empowerment, girls regain their confidence, rediscover their self-worth and know that they are valued and loved.
How can other girls prepare for high school?
Advice for other teenage girls preparing for high school would be for them to focus on their schoolwork, to listen to teachers and parents, and to focus on their goals and dreams. They should always aim to have higher marks and stay on the right track.
Sentle’s words of advice for all the girls in South Africa, in light of International Day of the Girl Child that took place on the 11th of October: girls should know their self-worth and not let anyone underestimate them. It is important that they don’t make unwise decisions that will impact their lives forever, like falling pregnant at a young age. It’s also advisable for them to think out of the box, dream bigger, and to follow those dreams.
Bonisile encourages young girls to stay in school so that they can finish their education and work towards building a career rather than becoming a teenage pregnancy statistic. Having a child when they themselves are still a child means that they can’t support their baby because they are still living under their parents’ roof.
Also importantly, they need to try and communicate with other learners and build bonds with them, believe in themselves, and hold on to hope.