Thursday, 10 November 2016

Once a Child Bride, Now Longing to Go Back to School

By: Dinda Veska

In Mamuju, West Sulawesi, there are 687 girls who are not going to school because they are married and are expected instead to take care of their new household. Most of these are arranged marriages, and one of these child brides is Ani*, 17.

Ani was married at age 15 and gave birth to a daughter shortly afterwards. In these past two years, she has fought many times with her husband and finally decided to get a divorce. Bringing up a baby girl, she has thought a lot about her own life and the impact that education could have on her child in the future. So Ani is eager to go back to school and pursue a higher education to reach her dream as a teacher.

Her motivation is simple but noble: She wants to be her child’s first source for knowledge and education. “If it doesn’t come from me, I’m afraid my daughter would not grow up as a good person,” she said.

At the moment, Ani and her parents are busy filling out the forms and going through the admissions process to enroll in a high school. Meanwhile Ani is working as a shopkeeper in a traditional market while waiting for school to start.

Improving access to quality education for children is one of UNICEF’s programmatic areas. UNICEF works with Phillips Lighting Indonesia and the Government in the Back to School programe, to help children such as Ani to get the quality education that she deserves. UNICEF Indonesia also works with UNICEF’s Dutch National Committee on child marriage.

Ani is keen to share her story and inspire many children in Indonesia to strive for their rights to education. “Going back to school is my vehicle to success!” Ani said.

*Photo, names of girls and villages have been changed