BY JOY OFASIA
EDUCATION is one of the most critical areas of empowerment and lifetime development for women and girls in the Solomon Islands, Florence Young Christian School Secondary Teacher Mrs. Monica Gwaite’e, affirmed.
Among the majority of children not attending schools and among illiterate adults in the country are believed to be women and girls in the country.
Mrs. Monica argued that women and girls in the Solomon Islands have the absolute right to be educated as men for them to have the chance of an improved and better-off life.
“Offering girls and women basic education is one sure way of giving them a status in the society and- also to enable them to make genuine choices or decisions for their family, community and the country.
“For example, when a woman is being educated, she may have the skills, knowledge, and confidence to be a better citizen, parent, worker, and leader in society.
“If girls have proper education, then they will have access to more opportunities, and they will know how to defend themselves. Education helps people become aware of problems within their society and family, and helps people know of ways to get rid of corruption,” she added.
Education is now one of the most fundamental human rights in human life. Nowadays, many parents in the country have aspirations for their children to have good school grades so that they can be accepted into a good university. Most parents believed that for their child to work in a good position, with a good salary, they need to have some sort of education.
Unfortunately, during the years of the British Solomon Islands Protectorate in the 19oos, a majority of parents in the country do not allow their daughters to have an education, and even spending money on women’s education was considered to be a waste. For many years, locals have not seen the importance of women’s education. However, nowadays not educating women might have drastic consequences in our society.
Mrs. Gwaite’e explained that the importance of women and girls receiving an education can positively benefit the country.
“For instance, education is a critical development for our economy because women with education can become doctors, teachers, nurses, lawyers, bankers, scientists, politicians, and more.
“When women work, they can help their families to be more financially stable and their countries’ economies. In allowing for women to have good jobs, this also allows for women to be financially independent.
“It allows women to have a voice and to have the power within their own homes and communities. Also, educated women can raise better families, because they are more likely to be able to better provide for their family and raise educated children,” she said.
In the Solomon Islands, one of the biggest reasons for girls not to attain education is because of gender norms. As per the traditional stereotype, women were supposed to take care of the home and the children. They were not supposed to have an education and, if a woman was particularly smart, she was seen as being a threat.
It is because of these gender norms that some women do not continue their education. Also, it is because of these norms that the majority of girls in the country get married before they reach adulthood- because they are raised to believe that the main thing they are to do in their lives is taking care of the children and their homes.
If a girl is married and with children before she graduates from school, then it becomes difficult for her to continue going to school, and thus, she cannot have an education.
The Florence Young Teacher encouraged women and girls who have not had the chance to go through formal education to seek remedial such as attending literacy classes.
“In Honiara literacy classes that are provided for men and women (both young and old) to have the chance to know how to read, therefore I call on women and girls to attend these classes.
“Women and girls take time to come out from their cocoons, so families, community and society should support women and girls right to education.
“The young generation of girls are the future mothers of any society. Mothers have a lot of influence over children’s lives and even their husbands, so their education is a development that will positively affect society and so we all should support girls’ education,” Mrs. Monica said.