One day, I went to visit my best friend Joy who I first met at Agape Secondary school. Joy told me she was upset because her parents refuse to pay her school fees. Instead of paying the 70,000 Ugandan shillings (about $23), Joy’s parents decided that she should get married so that they could save some money. She said her parents have never refused to pay her brothers’ school fees.
Joy said her parents were never supportive of her schooling. Every day before school she had to cook breakfast for everyone, wash all of the dishes and mop all of the floors in the house. By the time she arrived to school, the lessons had already started and the teachers would punish her for being late.
What Joy told me didn’t shock me. I know many parents in Uganda refuse to pay school fees for their daughters when they turn 13 years old. These parents believe that girls should get married instead of working so it’s a waste of time to educate a girl. I know another seven girls who are in Joy’s situation. Some parents even say that girls cannot head families so there is no need to educate them. The story is different for boys in Uganda. Many parents believe that it is better to educate a boy because if he gets married he will still get a job and bring that wealth home to his wider family. According to the United Nations Girl’s Education Initiative 47 percent of girls are married below the age of 18 in Uganda. This means many girls are taken out of education before the age of 18.
According to Plan International, 1 in 5 girls around the world is denied education. I am lucky that my parents think differently. My parents know the benefits of going to school and always encourage me. I am glad that my parents pay my school fees and that I am getting an education but I feel sad when I think about my friend Joy’s situation. I hope she finds a way to remain in school because, at 17 and without completing her education, she is too young to be married.