North-Ubangi: Marriage is a drag on girls’ schooling

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In the city of Bili, located 160 km from Gbadolite, capital of North-Ubangi province, in the north-west of the country, society does not perceive with equal value the education of girls and boys. Several girls are carefully married, sometimes against their own wishes.

The sector of Bosobolo includes more than 82 schools of which about ten are in the city of Bili.

At the Boyokani Primary School II (EP II Boyokani), a Catholic school, teaching is almost free. Some related fees are taxed to parents for the operation and pay of the guard. Despite the lower cost of schooling, more than half of enrolled girls do not finish the school year.

” In our school, teaching is free. We have a total of 18 staff members of whom 16 are teachers. All personnel are mechanized, except the sentry. It’s the parents who have to pay it. It is in this money that we also take part of the operating costs. Unfortunately, we are faced with two major difficulties. First, parents neglect girls’ education. I have seen a lot of parents come and get their 6th grade daughters aged between 13 and 15 to get married. Then there is no follow-up for education especially for girls. A girl can stay at home for two weeks without anyone coming to find out from the teacher,”says Mbiate Yawe François, the director of EP II Boyokani.

For the parents and the majority of the inhabitants of the city of Bili, girls no longer have to have the same level of education, according to local tradition.

” The girls have to accompany their mothers to fishing or to the field every morning. It is to prepare them to be women capable of keeping their homes. Why should we refuse to marry our daughters when the opportunity arises? In our culture, among the Mono, girls have to get married, “justifies Francine, stay-at-home mother.

Some parents or officials even refuse to pay school fees for their daughters to force them to stay home to take care of their little brothers. They are directly exposed to early marriage.

” My father is dead. I came to my uncle’s house. He does not want to pay me school anymore. When I ask him about my schooling, he tells me that he has no money left. If I had the means, I will study to become a doctor or doctor  “, regrets Huguette, 15 years old.

To combat discrimination between girls’ and boys’ education, teachers and some social leaders try to maintain a dialogue with parents and lea

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