Fawzya is a 28 woman. She is married and has a 4-year old daughter named Gana. Gana’s birth marks a shift in the way Fawzya perceives her role in life. Creating a brighter future for her daughter has become the motive that inspired all the courageous decision she took and made her strong and patient enough to pursue her goal until she has become educated, and now has her own income-generating activity. How Fawzya got there, it was a long journey, but all it takes is determination
Education is not for girls- a misconception denying many girls their right to education
Fawzya grew up in one of the slum communities in Cairo. Like many families in her community, Fawzya’s parents pulled her out from school after she completed the preparatory stage; as they believed she had received enough “portion” of education. According to what Fawzya’s parents think, higher education is of no use for girls as eventually they will get married.
As a child, Fawzya spent most of her time at home either helping out her mother with the household chorus or just staying at home.
Refusing to reproduce the traditional life cycle
Years passed so quickly and when Fawzya was 22 years old she got married. After one year, she gave birth to her daughter Gana- and that was the turning point.
“When I gave birth to Gana, the only thing I could think of was how to ensure she wouldn’t repeat my course of life. I wanted her to receive good education and become a successful young woman when she grows up.”
When Gana was about to reach the age of joining pre-school, Fawzya decided to return to being a student, so that she can learn and help her daughter with education.
“Although I left school after completing preparatory stage, I was not able to read or write; as the last time I went to school was so many years ago. I forgot almost everything.”
Fawzya joined one of “Learn for Life” literacy cycles that Plan International Egypt supports in her community and found it exceptionally interesting and empowering; as the facilitator used the innovative methodology “REFLECT” which puts the learners at the centre of the learning processes.
“I enjoy participating in REFLECT literacy circles; as I don’t only acquire literacy and numeracy skills, but I gain information so relevant to my daily life. For example, I learnt how to manage my budget, look after my child, and express myself freely. Learning all this information is fun, as we learn through drawing, charts and songs This greatly increased my self-confidence,” says Fawzya
“Learn for Life” provides participants with the space to discuss issues of common concern and take collective actions to address them. One of the common challenges was how to make basic family needs met. Therefore, the group decided to integrate “Savings Group” programme in “Learn for Life” circle. Through savings group, participants could save, take out loans and invest their savings in income-generating activities.
Education as a gate-opener
Participating in “Learn for Life” programme enabled Fawzya to provide her daughter Gana with the proper health and parental care she needed; as Gana was suffering from epilepsy. So, Fawzya put into practice all knowledge she gained through “Learn for Life” circle and has become so attentive to her daughter’s specific needs.
“At the beginning, it was difficult to provide Gana with the medication she needed. During one of “Learn for Life session, I spoke with the group about this challenge and the group encouraged me to take out a loan from the savings group and start an income generating project for selling deserts. The project works very well and is making big difference in my life,” states Fawzya happily
From resistant to imitator
When Fawzya first joined “Learn for Life” circle, her husband was relatively against the idea, seeing it of no value. Yet, after seeing how education has positively impacted Fawzya’s personality, way of thinking which in return improved their family condition; he increasingly began encouraging her to continue with her education. Not only that, Fawzya managed to convince her husband to join one of “Learn for Life” circles and now she supports him with his education.
“I call on everyone to be educated. Education is the means to achieving all goals. No one is ever too old to be educated,” concludes Fawzya.