“Before I left the city, I took the test for the government’s scholarship program. Then I returned to my home near the sea, and I stared at the waves, thinking, ‘I don’t want to spend my time watching waves.’ So, I tried military training, where the commanders expected me to crawl through barriers and dismantle arms. A commander had his boots on my back, and I was thinking, ‘This isn’t for me.’”
“One day, I went home and found a fat letter awaiting me, and I read the lines, ‘Congratulations, you passed the scholarship exam.’ I immediately returned to Notre Dame University to get my education degree.”
“This time, instead of losing my scholarship, I made the dean’s list for my last two years. When I graduated, my first career was in alternative learning systems. My first student was my mother, who was illiterate. Within two weeks she was reading.”
Now, 20 years later, Noraida is leading The Asia Foundation’s Women, Peace, and Security program in the Philippines, working with schools on curriculum and supporting more than 50,000 women who have been active in bringing peace to Mindanao.
Educating girls and young women can change the history of a nation as well as the life of a girl. It’s time for a large-scale investment in girls’ education in Asia to make that a reality for the next generation.
Jane Sloane is senior director of The Asia Foundation’s Women’s Empowerment Program. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author, not those of The Asia Foundation.
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