Once I met a girl at a workshop, and she wanted to share a secret with me. I was so excited! She said that she was in school until grade 2, but she had told all the other girls at the home that she had studied up until grade 5. “Do you know that because of that lie I tried to read? Now, I can slowly read the newspaper,” she said. I asked, “Why did you lie?” “Otherwise I will be teased by the other girls. I don’t want to show them I am not educated.” She explained to me how much she loves going to school and doing her studies.
She is 13 years old, and should now be in grade 7. She is a very smart girl with a plan; she had wanted to study, but she couldn’t. It’s not her fault, but she doesn’t want to get herself down saying she only studied up to grade 2. (There are other girls here who cannot read and write, and she didn’t want to offend them.) She didn’t give up! She tried so hard not to tell anyone this secret.
I gave her a very surprised look; I explained that studying is not only going to school! She can also use her brain and her courage to study. I said how I can see that one day she will have such a successful future! She was so happy to hear that! Her eyes brightened with a smile when I said that to her.
She said that she can read some of the books that Emerge has donated to the home. Some of the books have very big letters, (not small print like a newspaper) so they are interesting and easier to read. She wanted to read something easy and clear, and now she is doing it! The donated books are in the library, and there are some storybooks with pictures, big print and easy words. With the added pictures, she can easily understand.
I was thinking about how many children are willing to go to school. How many of them are stuck in homes or shelters? They should all know how to read, if only for the basics. If they travel by bus, they should know how to read the bus signs on where to go, or in a shop they should be able to read the price list rather than asking for prices one by one. Literacy is most important thing to live in the outside world, especially for these children, as they have to face society alone. Even to work as a helper in a garment factory with basic qualifications, they need literacy. Otherwise, who is going to sign their timesheet? How will they read important documents at work?
Most of the girls’ general knowledge is in good status. But the problem is, how are they going to improve their knowledge? They will need a certificate to prove their education level. At the very least, they need a school certificate proving to which grade she has studied. If they can learn at least until grade 11, they can sit for Ordinary Level exam; the minimum education level for applying for a job.
In one home/shelter, the Probation Department is running a great pilot project, sending two girls to school and watching to see if there are any problems with them. As these girls have court cases, it is a risky challenge to send them to school. The department has selected the girls who have been in the homes for a long time to send to school.
I say to THMD, to all the girls in the pilot project and all the girls in world who can’t (yet) read,
My dear little Angels, Wherever you are, whatever you do or did, all you need is a little Courage to win the world! Emerge is with you!!!