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Many stories, 1 shared quest: girls’ education in Ghana

These 14 girls come from all over Ghana. They are different ages and come from different circumstances, yet they each face obstacles in the pursuit of education. Though different, their journeys are all motivated by a collective wish: a chance to learn in school.

A young girl bends to collect water, within the river, as others do the same behind her.

Meet: Thoiba
Her challenge: access to water
Each morning, before school, Thoiba must walk 1 kilometre, from her home to the river, to collect water. She said this task sometimes makes her late for class.

A girl in a pink scarf headdress, pink t-shirt, and brown skirt, sits on a stool, staring at the camera.

Meet: Barikatu, 18
Her challenge: remote location
Umuliara’s home is an18 kilometre walk from the nearest junior high school. The path becomes flooded during the rainy season. Unable to make this daily trek, Umuliara was forced to dropout of school after completing her primary education.

A girl in a beige and brown school uniform stands in tall grass and brush.

Meet: Peace, 14    
Her challenge: no latrines or sanitation
Peace’s junior high school has no latrines, so students must use the surrounding bushes as an alternative. Some students feel unsafe in the bushes and prefer to return home, missing the remainder of their classes.

A girl in a brown and yellow uniform crosses her arms as she stands in front of a keyboard poster.

Meet: Baria, 18
Her challenge: lack of technological resources
Baria and her classmates take Information Communication Technology (ICT) as a core subject, but have no computers to reference. Instead, students rely on theoretical knowledge, like this hand-drawn keyboard poster, to learn and pass their examinations.

A profile of a girl, dressed in a green skirt and striped tank-top, sitting down and staring at the wall.

Meet: Lukaya
Her challenge: early pregnancy & marriage
Lukaya dropped out of school when she found out she was pregnant, and plans to marry the child’s father soon after birth. She said she is “happy, but not very happy” because she could not finish school. “Sometimes I wish I hadn’t done it,” she confided, “we should have used protection.”

A girl in a purple dress stands in the market holding watermelon slices on her head.

Meet: Jenet, 12
Her challenge: a school uniform
Jenet was devastated when her school uniform got caught on a protruding furniture nail, destroying the garment and her chance to continue the 4th grade. Because her parents could not afford to replace the uniform, Jenet sold watermelon until she earned enough to purchase a new one, herself.

A girl stands in the market with a cube filled with baked-goods on her head.

Meet: Philomina, 16
Her challenge: school supplies
Philomina’s father passed away and her mother lives in another region of the country. She now lives with her older brother. In order to pay for school “printing fees”, she sold food on behalf of a baker and took a small percentage of the earnings. “We manage,” she said.

A girl stands on a path with others, holding a basin filled with water on her head.

Meet: Tommy
Her challenge: clean water
Tommy’s school has no access to water, so she must bring a filled basin with her on her daily 1 kilometre walk to school. This task is only required of the female students, not the males.

A girl in a beige and brown uniform stands in the field holding bunches of large twigs

Meet: Hawulatu
Her challenge: inadequate building structure
Hawulatu collected and carried pieces of wood to build a proper fence for her school.

A Girl in magenta laughs as she jumps to hit a soccer ball with her head.

Meet: Comfort, 14
Her challenge: limited book supply
Comfort wants to be a nurse when she grows up. Unfortunately, her class only has 5 textbooks in science, to be shared amongst 23 children. It has no storybooks at all. Without enough books, the students’ overall reading is limited and the task of studying is made even more difficult.

A group of girls huddle in the dark around their books, illuminated by a single flashlight.

Meet: Asig, Nyawbaamur, Tommy and Wusaanyema
Their challenge: no electricity
The girls’ remote village is 18 kilometres from the nearest town and has no electricity. This forces the girls to do homework in the dark, illuminating their shared textbooks by a single flashlight.

A girl in a brown and yellow uniform sits at her desk, with open book, gazing at the camera.

Meet: Abigail, 11
Her dream: become a government minister.

These girls are among the 62 million girls worldwide who do not attend school with 27.9 million girls (aged 6-15) out of school in Sub-Saharan Africa alone, according to UNESCO. Through Because I am a Girl initiatives, -- like providing schools with girls only latrines  -- Plan is working to help girls, like these, overcome the barriers that prevent them from attending school and realizing their full potential.

The chance to learn isn’t something any child should have to wish for. Help girls everywhere access their right to an education, and see how one book can open a world of possibilities.