How all girls can go to school. The story of Miremba

By: Promoting Equality in African Schools (PEAS)

It’s once again time for children across the globe to pack their school bags and prepare to set their alarms for early morning classes. This familiar routine which sees the summer break replaced by busy schedules and bustling hallways often comes as a welcome change for students eager to re-enter the classroom and be reunited with friends and teachers. It’s hard to imagine that these back-to-school preparations, nerves, and anticipations will not be universally experienced by all children this year.

The sad reality is that 119 million girls across the world are still not enrolled in education, and 2 in 3 African children do not attend secondary school. At PEAS, we believe it’s time to change that and get #everygirlinschoolToday.

18-year-old Miremba from Kyamusoni in Uganda has been a student at PEAS Frontiers Secondary School since February 2019. She would have been one of the four in every five girls in Uganda who do not have the opportunity to attend secondary school had she not been able to enrol in one of the twenty-eight schools we run across the country.

There are many reasons why children in Uganda do not get the education they want and deserve. One of the greatest barriers that they face is often the physical distance of the school from their home. Not every village has a school, leaving children facing the potential of hours-long journeys, particularly if they do not have access to transport services. Miremba used to have to walk over an hour every day to reach her primary school, which she remembers as being poorly built, ill-equipped, and without the facilities to provide school lunch.

At her new school, founded by PEAS, the physical and social environment we have cultivated has allowed Miremba to feel safer. One aspect of school life Miremba particularly enjoys is the Girls’ Club in which she has learnt valuable skills and forged good friendships. The Girls’ Clubs are popular across our schools, as they provide a safe space in which girls are encouraged to destigmatise a broad range of sensitive topics, from menstrual health to issues concerning gender and misogyny. Alongside these more serious themes, the clubs allow children to feel relaxed at school, they help to cultivate skills which lie outside of the curriculum such as sewing, knitting and basket-making.

Sadly, in areas like Uganda, the Covid-19 pandemic took a huge toll on education services. Many schools across the country lacked the funding and infrastructure to fully implement remote education. The result was that many children could not complete their education over this period, and fell behind, or in some cases, did not return to school when the lockdowns were lifted. A lack of consistent contact with schoolteachers over this period greatly impacted students’ abilities to raise safeguarding concerns which left many children feeling isolated, too.

Fortunately, as the pandemic hit, we were able to provide PEAS schools and students with at-home learning packages, which included a telephone and SMS support line, training in the use of radios, and workbooks. Through this, we helped students’ education remain relatively undisrupted, and our implementation of teacher-training courses concerning safeguarding helped to carry the safe environment fostered in PEAS schools into the home. While Miremba certainly missed the classroom over this period and was excited to reconnect with her friends and teachers when she returned, she felt grateful for these systems during the long lockdown period between February 2019 and January 2022 because it allowed her to stay on-track with her curriculum.


Distribution of instruction days by school closure status and region, March 2020 to October 2021

GEM Report team analysis of UNESCO database of school closures.


Cultural expectations which remain prevalent in Ugandan society often pressurise girls to leave education far earlier than boys so that they can marry and raise families instead. This is part of the reason why 700,000 girls across the country have never attended school. We are committed to enrolling and keeping girls in school so that they can realise their full potential in society.

All of these efforts, combined with strong, effective female leaders and teachers across our schools via the Senior Women Teacher (SWT) programme which provides powerful role models and nurtures safe and stable environments for them, helps girls make the most out of their education. Emerging research also notes that engaging with Senior Women Teachers actually increases girls’ literacy rates by 264%.

We hope to be able to reach more girls like Miremba and help to close the gender-gap in education which remains pervasive in sub-Saharan Africa.


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