• Why 12-year-old Rahma’s Goals Outweigh What the Bullies Say

    ​As told to Adriana Ermter

    Rahma_StoryPicture.pngPhoto by: Terence Babb

    Every day, I walk t​​o scho​ol very early in the morning. My school starts at 7:00 am. It takes me 10 minutes to get there. When I walk by myself, people in the street yell at me: "Why are you going to school?" "For what?" "You're a girl." I can't see who's saying these things because they're hiding in the shadows, but I can hear ​them. They are men, women and sometimes even children's voices and their words make me feel bad because I know they wouldn't heckle me if I was a boy. People say: boys learn a lot and will pass their information on to the community. I don't believe this is true. Boys and girls are the same. I try not to listen to their cruel words or to believe what they're saying because if I take their words into my heart I won't be able to achieve my goal.

    I want to go to university so I can fulfil my dream of becoming a doctor or a dentist. I told my parents about wanting to be a doctor and they agree and encourage me to stay in school. Recently, I've thought about becoming a dentist, too. I haven't told my parents about this idea yet, but I know they will support me.​​​​​

    My parents work hard so that my brothe​​r and I can go to school. I have five brothers and one sister and I'm the youngest child. My sister is married and four of my brothers play football—I know how to play, too and I'm really good at defense. My youngest brother is in Secondary School. I don't know how old my sister is or if she graduated from Secondary School. My dad is a football coach and my mom sells snacks to people in the market every morning. Sometimes we don't have enough money. When this happens I don't eat breakfast or dinner and I feel hungry. But I know that I have more than some of my classmates. Our house has three rooms: a bedroom, a livingroom and a kitchen. I sleep in the livingroom with my youngest brother. My dad supports me by buying my school uniform and shoes and giving me a good place to sleep. And I'm really close with my mom; when I'm not in school I'm with her all the time. At night, my dad checks my school work to see how I'm doing in my classes. I like it when he does this because then my parents know how I'm progressing.

    I'm the smartest in my class. In my school, there are 230 children in my grade and I'm one of the top three in marks. Two of us are girls and the third person is a boy. I'm also one of the oldest children in my grade. When I was seven years old, I wasn't allowed to enroll in Standard 1 because the teacher told my mom that I was physically too small, so I studied in Nursery School for an extra year, instead. But it's okay. I'm 12 years old and I'm in Standard 5 and I love it. My teacher uses games at the beginning of each class to help us remember our schoolwork, like our math equations. Right now we're learning about fractions and decimals. This helps me concentrate, especially when I'm hungry. But I never give up. My mom, dad, brothers and teachers taught me this. My parents taught me to be committed to my school work and to work hard.

    School is important to me. I have the opportunity to get an education and to go to school when other children have to stay at home. I've always believed that I have the right to go to school and to become someone. Some days it's hard to remember this when I hear the people shouting bad words at me in the street. I want to tell the hecklers: "Stop it. Be positive. Stop what you're doing so you can go to school and become engineers or something else. Children are the future and we need to help our parents."​​ I believe all boys and girls are leaders. I'm a girl and I'm a prefect at school. I'm a leader.​

    Right To Play's Play for the Advancement of Quality Education (PAQE) programming launched in 2015 in eight countries with financial support from the Government of Canada provided through Global Affairs Canada. In Tanzania, Rwanda and Mozambique, PAQE is further supported by the LEGO Foundation and uses Right To Play's play-based approach to improve learning outcomes for children and youth aged 2 -15 years through a sustainable and replicable child-centered, play-based learning model.  ​​​