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Break the culture of silence - US Ambassador urges students

Dec 16, 2009, 1:43 PM | Article By: Lamin B. Darboe

The United States Ambassador to The Gambia has urged students to break the culture of silence by disseminating information regarding their rights to education, especially a girl child.

Ambassador Barry Wells made these remarks on Monday at the beginning of a five-day TUSEME workshop for over 50 students, at St. Therese Upper Basic School in Kanifing.

According to Ambassador Wells, education is one of the most important areas in human life. He lamented the inequity that exists between girls and boys, as he put it, they are not given equal opportunities in education.

"You can make a difference if you make the best use of your education. Keep it up for your own educational prosperity," he stated.

For her part, Ms Emily Sarr, the Chairperson of FAWEGAM said the training was aimed at empowering girls to overcome their inhibitions and voice their concerns in public. Ms. Sarr said the socialisation process in Africa is often responsible for the inability of girls to speak out, particularly in classroom.

She informed the students that the TUSEME project started in 1996 in the Department of Fine and Performing Arts (DFPA) of the University of Dares Salaam, following concerns from educationists, parents and social groups in Tanzania who realised that the academic performance of girls in secondary schools was not satisfactory.

According to Ms. Sarr, one of the researches has shown that the factors behind poor academic performance by girls was their poor involvement in discussions affecting them and their proposed remedies.

She said TUSEME project was formed in order to train girls to express publicly their views on matters that affect their academic and social developments, and learn to take part in finding solutions to those problems. "With courage and proper communication skills, girls and women are more likely to speak up about sexual harassment and other violations of their rights as well as seek redress," Ms. Sarr concluded.