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Project SAMA: Bridging the Gender Gap Through Education

SAMA Plan Intrepid Travel

I still remember my primary four teacher, Miss Stevenson… later Mrs Wray. I think I had an 8-year-old crush on her. I cried and cried when the school year ended, knowing that the new term would bring a new teacher… and it would probably be the old rat bag I didn’t like. School can have that effect on you.

I remember too, when I was in my final year of secondary school, dobbing off with a friend much too regularly (sorry, Mum), spending the day secreted away in her sister’s house watching bad morning TV and playing the Ouija board (I know… double sorry, Mum!). I really should have been studying hard for my ‘O’ levels, yet at the time I couldn’t care less about my education. I couldn’t see why we had to endure a ream of stupid tests just so we could be rated as smart or stupid – or so my 16-year-old view of the world saw it at the time.

Years later, after a hugely enjoyable tertiary education I came through the other side. I realised I wasn’t as stupid as I thought and graduated with First Degree Honors.

I found I had an insatiable appetite for knowledge, and still do. I could very happily be an eternal student.

Through the education system available to me I could learn what I wanted, when I wanted, I could pick and choose. Some of it I had to pay for, yes, but for much of the time my schooling was free. I was lucky. I am lucky.

Why Am I Banging on About My Education?

We take it for granted… education.

Through all those years I was rebelling against the system I knew that if I needed the qualifications as much as everyone was telling me then I could go back and study any time. I could simply saunter in and study.

Meanwhile, in the rest of the world that is all many children want – an education.

Girls, especially, get a raw deal. In many parts of the world, their role within the family is still very much seen as traditional. They cook, clean, sew, fetch water. They help run the household, essentially.

This gender inequality in education means over 60 million girls around the world are missing out on basic primary schooling.

What Can You Do About It?

Read about Project SAMA, a joint initiative between one of the world’s oldest and most experienced children’s development organisations Plan and adventure tour operator Intrepid Travel, and DONATE.

SAMA is “a three year global gender equality project which aims to improve the lives of communities and help bridge the gender gap through education.”

Together, Plan and Intrepid Travel, a company with a long history of giving back, aim to raise $60,000 by June 2012 to help children – especially young girls – get better access to the education they deserve, the education we often take for granted.

Giving Children in Tribal Communities a Better Start to Life

The first project is set to be in Laos, one of the least developed countries in the world. Most of the population live as subsistence farmers, and although there has been an increase in school enrolments many children miss out, especially girls. Those from an ethnic minority background, who speak mostly in local dialects, face an even greater obstacle as Lao is the official language spoken in schools.

What Project SAMA aims to do is:

  • Provide children aged 0-8 years with access to quality early learning services, as well as prepare older children for school through the primary school transition program
  • Assist the introduction of local language parenting groups and community playgroups for 0-3 year-olds
  • Train parents and other community members to facilitate playgroups and early learning activities in their communities
  • Provide training in child development, learning through play, and age-appropriate activities for preschool teachers, Grade 1 and 2 primary school teachers and school directors
  • Promote the right of girls to an education and ensure parental attitudes and practices are supportive of children of both sexes

Your support would help these communities help themselves.

How Much to Give?

Not much. Not much at all. Five bucks would be a great start.

$5 can provide a maths bag and slate
$5 can provide sports equipment for a village
$15 can provide play and learning materials for a preschool
$50 can support one playgroup in an ethnic minority community
$100 can help train one teacher

There is so much more behind Project SAMA than I can relay here, so be sure to bookmark the page on Intrepid Travel and read through it all when you have time.

Project SAMA is a great cause, and it’s only when you read about something like this happening that you realise, not only how precious your hands-on education is, but the education you get through travel, the wider experiences that teach you how important it is to look outside of your charmed life, check what’s going on in the periphery every now and again, and give back.

Spread the Word

Join Intrepid by giving SAMA a High-5 on Twitter using the #SAMAHi5 hashtag, or you can DONATE (securely) via their Facebook page or via Plan.



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