What is the Main Reason Girls Quit School in South Africa?
Why do girls quit schools in developing and underserved countries and communities around the world? It is a valid and highly relevant question both in the interests of girls as well as the communities they live in.
To explain why this happens, I’d like to tell you a short story. My name is Anna, and I’m 14 years old and used to attend school in my village in South Africa. We are a poor family and I live with 6 other siblings and my Mother. I know I have a Father, but I have never met him as he lives and works in the city and sometimes sends money but he doesn’t come home.
When I was 13 I was still at school and was playing at break at school, when all of a sudden the boys and some of the girls started laughing and pointing at me. I could not understand what I had done that was so funny.
One of my friends grabbed my arm and pulled me to the ground to sit down, telling me not to sit on my dress, to pull it out from under me. I was confused and scared and started crying, and they kept pointing and laughing and laughing. My dress felt wet, it was strange, and when I looked down I saw blood! I remember screaming. I jumped up and ran out of school and all the way to our small mud brick house.
My Mother heard me crying and came to see what was wrong. She held me and told me this was a normal part of being a girl. I asked if I might die? Mother smiled and said no my dear, you won’t die. This will come each month and it means your body is getting ready to be able to have babies. I was scared and cried and asked if I could stop the blood. My Mother said I could wear a pad and would also have to wear underwear, but we couldn’t afford either of those, so when I had my period I would have to stay home from school. I said I was embarrassed and afraid and did not want to go back. She told me I would be fine and once the period stopped she took me back to school.
The boys pointed and giggled and I felt really embarrassed all day and did not want to play with anyone for a while. The next month, my period came again as my Mother said it would. She had kept me home a few days before this time so I didn’t have an accident again.
When I got back after this period I felt confused in the classroom as they were talking about things I had not learned and I did not understand. My teacher said I should just be quite and listen. I felt lost and over the next few months it got worse. I didn’t fit in. I noticed some of my girl friends were not at school either. After the 6th month, I never went back to school.
So now you know. I hope my story inspires you to help other girls like me, so we can have menstrual supplies, and underwear so we can learn like the boys can learn.