Education for girls projects in Jamaica and Egypt win UNESCO prize


An article from Their World

Kemoshia Gibbs was only 13 when she found out she was pregnant. She cried every day – and so did her mother. “I was so ashamed, depressed, stressed, confused, frustrated, sad and had anger issues,” she said. “I faced a mix of feelings, all bundled up in one. I was afraid to go outside. It was as if I was confined to the bedroom.”

Kemoshia left her high school and moved into the Women’s Centre of Jamaica programme. It helps to provide continuing education, health services and other assistance for girls who drop out during pregnancy – and then assists their reintegration into school.

After having a son, and with the organisation’s help, she moved back into the regular school system in 2014. Determined to succeed, she juggled with the demands but graduated as the top female student at Godfrey Stewart High.

Kemoshia – who hopes to have a career in humanities or food science and technology – said: “I am forever grateful for the contribution of the Women’s Centre in my life. They were there when my life was a mess.”

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Question for this article

Gender equality in education, Is it advancing?

Prospects for progress in women’s equality, what are the short and long term prospects?

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That work has seen the Women’s Centre of Jamaica named as one of two winners of this year’s UNESCO Prize for Girls’ and Women’s Education. The other is the Misr El-Kheir Foundation from Egypt, for providing community-focused educational opportunities to children aged from six to 14 in remote areas.

They received their $50,000 prizes at a ceremony in Paris. Zoe Simpson, Executive Director of the Women’s Centre of Jamaica, told Their News: “The UNESCO prize will be used to further enhance and expand the virtual delivery of special preparatory classes to the rural centres.  

“The classes prepare the older adolescent mothers to sit the external examinations that enable them to matriculate to tertiary-level studies.”

The Misr El-Kheir Foundation  won for a project called Educational Opportunities for Children in Underserved Villages through Community Schools.

This provides community-focused educational opportunities to children aged from six to 14 in remote areas. It particularly focuses on girls who are not enrolled in primary education or who have dropped out due to early marriage or other obstacles. 

Mohamed Abdel Rahman, Deputy Managing Director of Misr El Kheir Foundation, said: “We build schools inside the communities. We get the teachers from within the same communities. So the girls have the right to education and easy access to schools.”

The UNESCO prize – funded by the Chinese government – was launched in 2016 to recognise the Sustainable Development Goals on education and gender equality. 

(Thank you to Janet Hudgins, the CPNN reporter for this article.)