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Taking on mountains

Students at the Imbirikani Girls High School in Kenya.

Education is one of the most powerful tools for improving societies. Literate societies are healthier, wealthier, and generally more stable. For girls especially, education reduces early marriage, improves health — including maternal mortality — and provides for a better future not only for them but also for their children.

But in some areas, the challenges to accessing education are as great as the benefits. In my column at Communities Digital News, I write about Kenya and the efforts to bring educational opportunities to the girls there, particular in the Maasai region. A group based here in the Dallas area has built a high school, offering scholarships and even helping the graduates of the high school through University.

I also talked to Representative Sabina Chege, the chairwoman of the Education Committee in the National Parliament about Kenya’s efforts to increase access to education. The challenges they face are formidable. According to the CIA World Fact Book, 42% of the population is 14 or younger. Another 18% is from 15-25. The infrastructure requirements alone to educate almost half the population is staggering.

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Cultural barriers and beliefs and poverty also offer challenges. I was stunned to learn that the poorest girls who are able to attend school sometimes miss 3 or 4 days a month simply because they don’t have access to feminine hygiene products.

Despite all of these challenges, Rep. Chege was optimistic and ambitious in her vision for her fellow countrymen. In addition to increasing primary and secondary school access for children, she wants to see entrepreneurship taught and innovation encouraged. I’m interested to see how Kenya will prosper and grow if she gets her wish. And frankly, I wish we would adopt some of her passion and vision for our young people and for education.

Read more at Between Errands at Communities Digital News.

To learn how you can support the Imbirikani Girls High School, visit their website. As Rep. Chege said, “Once you educate a woman, you educate a whole society.”

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