Milli is fourteen years old and a third year student at junior high school in the rural Upper East Region of Northern Ghana. She is the fifth of six siblings and the only girl in the family. Milli is a bright girl who started school at the age of three. The fact that her older brothers did not perform well at school and dropped out before completing their studies did not motivate Milli’s father to invest time and resources in her education. As he explained, “her older siblings were sent to school and did not prove that formal education was the best way to go” and so he was going to take her out of the education system once she finished primary school. He was also considering arranging an early marriage for her.
While she was at primary school, Milli’s family became reluctant to pay for school books and supplies and this started to have an impact on her performance. However, when she was nine years old, Youth Alive initiated a programme to improve enrolment, retention and performance in local schools and Milli’s community and school both benefitted from this project. The project also provided books and other learning materials to participating schools and to under-resourced children like Milli. Through this project, she was encouraged to join her school club and was selected to become a peer educator benefitting from attending a series of workshops which included ‘Assertiveness Training’, ‘Persuasive Communication Skills’, ‘Rights and Responsibilities of the Child’, ‘Responsibilities of Parents’ and ‘Child Protection and Safeguarding Procedures’.
This period marked a turning point in Milli’s life. She started to feel more confident, increased her participation in class and her academic performance began to improve. Milli was made the leader of her school club; sharing her learning with her peers during school assemblies. She was also made head girl of her school. During this time her academic performance improved remarkably and she became one of the five best students in her class.
Milli continued to perform well and progress with the same level of confidence during her years at junior high school and represented the school during inter-school debates and quiz competitions. She is currently considered a model student in her school and is studying hard to sit for her Basic Education Certificate exams (BECE) so that she can progress to secondary school.
Milli says: “I underrated myself but the training workshops built up my confidence and helped me to realise that I can excel. I want to prove my parents wrong. I am determined to demonstrate to them that I am different from my older brothers and that one day I will change the status of my family. I want to be a nurse in the future so that I can take care of my family’s health needs and also help my community.”