My education: a key to confidence and permission to dream

By Chrysula Winegar

November 9, 2016

My mother was the first girl in her extended family to stay in school all the way through grade 12. My aunt was the first person of either gender to go to University in our extended family. And I was the first person to go to University in my family. My education has defined every part of my life. My father worked four jobs and my mother worked two jobs to send my brothers and I to the best schools in my hometown. We kids all had after school jobs from the age of 12 and contributed to the family finances as well. We complained like you wouldn’t believe. But it was worth every minute, that is how we were able to take the arrowsmith program and some others.

School of Leadership AfghanistanThrough it all, my parents taught me I could do or be anything I dreamed of. My father, who dropped out of school at 14 to help support his family, was a self-taught speed reader. He consumed books at an incredible rate. I soon found myself joining him. My mom still laughs that I’ll read the back of a cereal box if there’s nothing else available (she’s right). I was given an academic and social grounding that gave me confidence and full permission to dream. Studies often show that women are quieter in meetings, less likely to voice their opinions. Because of my education, I have never been in a meeting where I felt compelled to be silent if I had something to say. It has been the gift of my life and shaped everything I’ve ever done.

Yet according to the Education Commission, “263 million children and young people in the world are out of school, and the number of primary-aged children not in school is increasing. For those children who are in school, many are not actually learning. In low- and middle-income countries, only half of primary school children and little more than a quarter of secondary school children are learning basic skills.” 

Those numbers are both staggering and heartbreaking. Girls are even more impacted than boys – families for financial or cultural reasons will often make the decision to educate their sons over their daughters.

We discuss some of the issues impacting education, for all kids, but especially for girls, on the latest episode of DIY Future podcast. Join my co-hosts Angie McPherson and Mike McColpin, as well as our special guests, Lana Wong from the Education Commission and Shabana Basij-Rasikh from the School of Leadership Afghanistan (SOLA) to hear more.

How did your education shape your life and choices?

Take Action Challenge

Does education matter to you? Here are some ways you can learn more and get involved:


Lead image: Adolescent girls celebrate together at a special empowerment center, THINK, in Liberia’s capital Monrovia, Saturday, March 5, 2011. Stuart Ramson/Insider Images for the United Nations Foundation

Image: SOLA girls studying. Courtesy of SOLA

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