Monday, April 11, 2016

Choice ~ Guest blog by Graeme, CEF's manager in Australia

Last year CEF began a scholarship program to help young women in years 10, 11 and 12, mostly from minority tribe backgrounds, complete high school.  A few of these young women are talented students, top of class and often of their year, and are more than capable of going to university. However, some of them may not be able to take up an opportunity to continue their education at the tertiary level .

How could this be? CEF has a new scholarship fund which will support them. One of our staff will mentor them through their studies. All the signs are that they will graduate and be able to contribute greatly to their families and communities, as well as becoming role models for other girls.

It seems that the answer mostly lies in deeply held views in Vietnamese and ethnic minority tribe cultures which see women as having a different role to play in the family and in their communities once they have completed their school education. This means that for a young woman to be absent from the home at the age when she can contribute so much to her family, for example by helping in the home and by bringing in much needed extra income, there would have to be a compelling reason to allow her to continue on to university.

In this school year, which finishes in June 2016, with the help of the school, we have identified five young women who have excellent school results and who would qualify to study at university. These girls are all from the poorest families some living in quite remote areas in the hills along the Vietnamese Laos border. As far as we know no women from this school from a similar background have gone on to university. if any of them do they would be breaking new ground. I say if, because we already have evidence that the fathers or mothers of some of the girls will not agree to them going to university. Citing the important role they play in the family, circumstances where there is only one parent and other reasons it seems likely that these five university scholarships will not all be taken up.

However, some young women are very determined and find a way to make their aspiration to continue their studies come true. I’ll write about one such young woman in my next blog. 

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