(Women Thrive's Jessica Leslie with Nina Tchangoue at the United Nations last month)
Bertheline Nina Tchangoue is a real superstar.
She’s shaking things up as a prominent member of the movement to improve quality learning for girls in her native Cameroon. And she’s a member of the UN Global Education First Youth Advocacy Group, so you know that when Nina speaks, world leaders are listening.
Women Thrive Worldwide caught up with Nina at the July 2013 United Nations Youth General Assembly to talk about one of the most significant issues of the 21st Century – educating the world’s girls:
What is the #1 issue facing girls today?
Gender discrimination is the most current and pressing issue facing girls in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in Cameroon.
Girls don’t have equal rights and opportunities like boys. They are subject to different forms of discrimination just because of their gender. This situation makes girls have low self-esteem as well as a lack of confidence.
Many parents believe that the best education they can afford their girl child is on how to take good care of a house. Thousands of girls are growing up every year without knowing or understanding their basic rights. At an early age, they are married off and are exposed to early and unwanted pregnancies.
They don’t know the difference between the present and the future because they were born to become wife, homemaker and mother.
In your mind, why do learning and a quality education matter? Is it different for girls?
Learning and quality education are substantial to every human being’s life. It gives a sense to our life. We can easily fit into the society. We can determine the type of future we want with a quality education. We can make informed decisions and adopt healthy lifestyles, whereas with no education, we are exposed to diverse social ills.
Education doesn’t matter when it is not equitable. Many girls are out of school right now. It looks like they came to this earth to be passive. They don’t have the chance and the opportunity to care about their future.
Quality learning and equitable learning should be interrelated. Girls should have an equal right to go to school. Access to quality education should be provided to both boys and girls with no restriction on age, disability, gender, origin or religion.
How did you get started in advocating for quality education? Is there one experience that sticks out?
It all started when I was in secondary school. I was actively involved in students’ affairs as the president of UNESCO club, a school platform that brings students together to discuss school matters and exchange current and pressing information concerning them. It was through this platform that I began my campaign for quality education.
From your perspective, what are the 4-5 most important things that can be done to improve the quality of learning globally, or in Cameroon?
- Education should be contextualized.
It should focus on the realities of a given country. In Cameroon, nearly all the books are imported and these books do not expose what we are going through.
- Teachers need to be trained adequately to deliver quality education.
They can’t give quality education to children when they are not trained effectively to do so. They should also be provided with good motivational salary.
- New technology should be incorporated into school curricula to ease the learning process.
Learning should be more practical. Many children still face a lot of difficulties to operate a computer, not to even talk of using Internet.
- Many schools need to be created with professionally trained teachers.
In Cameroon, a majority of schools have classrooms that contain 60 to 80 students. This makes the learning process difficult. Even the best teacher in the world cannot teach in such a situation.
Young women like Nina know the importance of educating girls. Quality education can open doors, lift future earnings, and provide new tools to empower girls in developing countries to lift their families out of poverty and make their communities safer and healthier.
Women Thrive Worldwide is working hard to lift the voices of women like Nina, but we need your help. Learn more about Women Thrive’s education and learning work now >>