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New year, new outlook for Nga

It’s a new year in Nga, and the community’s kicking it off right, thanks to your support.

As you reflect on resolutions for the year ahead, local families are resolving to make some major changes of their own: like altering mindsets towards education, especially when it comes to girls.

After your Community Sponsorship enabled us to survey over 1,300 community members and local children (of all local Khmu, Hmong and Lao ethnicities), important insights came to light.

Some parents never enrolled in school and found it difficult to live without education, so they try hard to support their children’s education even though they are poor,” explained one teacher.

Yet, close to 50% of parents were not taking action to support their children’s education, particularly their daughters’ – but why?

Two girls stand on a mountainside overlooking Nga, and smile.

To solve the problem, first we had to understand it.

Here’s what you helped us find:

Lack of awareness: Some parents didn’t understand the true value of school.

Poor education is because of a lack of awareness among adults,” one 12-year-old boy recognized, while a local teacher shared that "some parents think educational investments for their children cannot give good returns.”

A girl sits at her desk, holding a smile and smiling proudly.

For every extra year a girl stays in school, her income can increase by 10 to 20%.

Financial barriers:Some girls stop school and have to do housework for the whole family,” one teacher told us.

Families saw the short term benefits of having children assist with home and agricultural tasks that help generate income. What many didn’t see was the long term benefit of education – like improved financial stability and employment rates.

Childcare: Several children missed school in order to care for their younger siblings while their parents worked. Being the eldest, and a girl, drastically increased probability of dropping out.

I had to stay at home to look after my younger sibling. This prevented me from studying,” shares one 10-year-old girl.

Longstanding gender inequalities:Gender affects children’s access and attendance to school a lot,” said one school director. Children in the community also noticed this disparity. “Mostly boys are supported to go to school,” shared a local girl, age 11.

Traditionally, when daughters marry in Nga, they move away to live with their husband’s family. This leaves sons to care for aging relatives, swaying parents to support their son’s education if they can only afford it for one child.

 A girl smiles at the camera as she raises her hand in class.

On average, a girl with 7 years education will marry 4 years later and have fewer, healthier children.

Child marriage: When it’s a challenge for families to meet everyday needs, it isn’t only schooling that is lost.

Unable to care for all their children, parents often feel little choice but to have their young daughters marry in search of better financial security. In turn, this also reduces their family’s expenditures.

"Some girls stop going to school to get married – some from the age of 13 years,” notes one teacher. And, as one 13-year-old girl addressed, it doesn’t only negatively impact girls: “Both boys and girls have dropped out to get married.

Now you’re helping Nga start anew.

Through your support of sessions and door-to-door visits, parents are becoming aware of the importance of education for all, and the many risks of early marriage. Already, they’re getting on board with change.

Double panel: a girl sits and writes intently at her school desk, then looks up and smiles.

Girls’ rights are garnering support, so girls are becoming even more determined to dream, learn and succeed – chances you’re helping them harness.

I started going to school and am pleased to be able to even though I’m behind and am older than the standard age for studying Grade 1,” shares one unstoppable 10-year-old girl.

"I want to get knowledge; I want to study in order to develop myself, my community and my country,” adds a 13-year-old peer – proof that when you invest in girls, as you have, they’ll work to uplift everyone around them.

Education is extremely important to us,” explains another local girl, 11, eager to use her knowledge to help Nga thrive. It will change our community.

A new perspective, with untapped potential

Today, children and parents across Nga are better informed, and the process of breaking age-old inequalities has already begun.

And as this community continues to strengthen through your sponsorship, so to will the children within it – healthier and stronger than ever.

Two boys and three girls sit alongside one another on a schoolyard bench, smiling.

Thanks to you, big, bold shifts have already begun.

If they know the importance, parents try to support their children’s education,” explained a local teacher. And, now that they do, they’re realizing its true poverty-fighting power.

As one mother replied when asked why she now supports her child’s attendance at school: Education will help them have better lives.

A simple but profound truth – and you’re making it possible.

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