What’s in an Education
By: Charuni Ranchigoda
Emerge Lanka Foundation Office Manager
What does education mean to you? In our world of advanced technology and specialized degrees, how would you feel if you were left behind? TO me, education means a world of opportunities. A path to fulfill my dreams. To another, it may be an accomplishment of a goal.
But.. What if education meant survival to you? Sri Lanka boasts a very high literacy level among developing countries. What if in this world, you could not read or write? Or worse still, what if you could do all that and more, yet you were told you cannot go to school for your own safety?
This is the situation faced by many of our girls (with the exception of a mere three) Do to safety reasons, they are not allowed to attend school while their cases are still open. Many of our shelters have very limited resources and space, and are unable to run schools within their premises. Crushed by abuse and denied education. Doubly unjust. Doubly wronged. While most of our girls have basic literacy and math knowledge, some cannot read or write. Imagine being fourteen and unable to write you own name.. How can one break the cycle of exploitation with bound hands? I have wondered many times whether the aftermath of an abuse incident and the resulting situations damage a girl’s life more than the incident itself.. For a girl of such circumstances, to be locked away from education is to be locked away not only from opportunity but also from very necessary tools for survival and independence.
We at Emerge try our best at remedial action, through teaching them life skills that include Healthy Lifestyles and Relationships, Money and Banking, Reproductive Health and so on. Each of these lessons are thought of and taught as not just a mere lesson. Girls are encouraged to develop their own value systems and respect others’.
While these enable them to face life with strength, here in Sri Lanka, there is no denying the weight of an educational certificate.
This is where a group of very special women come in. They are called ‘The ELF Mentors’. Our Mentors are currently in the process of piloting an academic program at The Haven and Sunshine shelter run by The Salvation Army where Emerge launched its Mentor-ship program.
Since our girls cannot go to school, the idea is to bring the school to them, by way of school lessons. Our girls can then resume their interrupted education and prepare for the G.C.E O/L Examination if they want to. It must be mentioned that though none of these lessons are mandatory, almost all the girls have expressed interest in learning lessons to the best of their capacity.. Among them, there is a special young lady who hopes to become a teacher one day, and another who hopes to join the army. All these vocations require education certificates, which I’m sure they will secure, with the help of this program. The future indeed has turned a several shades brighter for our girls and a very special thank you goes out to all our mentors who despite their busy schedules are tirelessly working towards this very worthy cause. They are very special to Emerge and I am proud to be a part of this wonderful group, as much as I am a part of Emerge. It will be heart warming and wonderful to hear their thoughts and to watch this program grow from infancy to full strength. Over to you, ELF Mentors..