To learn is to be free | Shameem Akhtar | Summary and Q&A

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To learn is to be free | Shameem Akhtar

TL;DR

This content tells the story of a girl named Shameem who overcame gender discrimination and fought for girls' education in her village.

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Questions & Answers

Q: Why was the girl child allowed to get an education alongside boys?

The girl child was allowed to get an education alongside boys because her uncle, who was a university graduate, wanted to give her an opportunity to see the world and be part of society. He decided to raise her as a boy, giving her a boy's getup and allowing her to go outside and get an education.

Q: Why couldn't the girl child attend high school for further education?

The girl child couldn't attend high school for further education because there wasn't a single functional girls' school in her village. The only option for high school was five kilometers away, and her father would not allow her to travel there on her own, even if she posed as a boy.

Q: How did the girl child complete her matriculation?

The girl child completed her matriculation by a long-distance relative who offered to teach her ninth- and tenth-grade curricula during summer vacations. This opportunity allowed her to continue her education and successfully complete her matriculation.

Q: What obstacles did the girl child face when pursuing higher education?

When pursuing higher education, the girl child faced obstacles from her father, who believed her place was at home. However, she didn't give up and signed up for a two-year program to become a lady health visitor. She also faced resistance from relatives who were scared about her wandering off and crossing the border.

Q: What role did the girl child play in empowering rural communities?

The girl child played a role in empowering rural communities through her work at the Thardeep Rural Development Program (TRDP), a non-profit organization. She sent money back home, which made others realize the importance of education. As a result, more parents started sending their daughters to school, and it became easier and acceptable for young women to pursue higher education.

Q: What did the girl child do when she realized her region needed further change?

When the girl child realized her region needed further change, she decided to go back and take a position as a teacher in a remote school. She traveled two hours by bus every morning and evening to reach the school. Despite the challenges, she knew she had made the right decision upon seeing the eager girls with dreams in their eyes.

Q: What impact does the girl child believe education has on important issues?

The girl child believes that without educating girls, it is difficult to achieve world peace and address important issues such as reducing child marriage, infant mortality rate, and maternal mortality rate. She believes that continuous and collective effort is needed to make a difference. She is playing her role by pursuing her PhD in education and working towards a management position in the school system.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • The speaker, Shameem, grew up in a conservative tribe where girls were not allowed to get an education alongside boys. She was raised as a boy and fought for her right to continue her education.

  • Shameem faced many challenges, including resistance from her father, but she persevered and completed her education. She then joined a non-profit organization that empowered rural communities.

  • Shameem realized the importance of words and discovered her power to create change. She now works as a teacher in a remote school and is determined to educate girls and make a difference in her community.

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