Burnley pupils offer girls the gift of education

Sibongire from Malawi

Sibongire from Malawi

First published in News Lancashire Telegraph: Photograph of the Author by , Chief reporter

STUDENTS from a Burnley high school are helping to give the gift of education to two girls on different continents.

Just reaching school can be a trial for Sibongire, from Malawi, and Senovia, who lives in Bolivia.

Now with the help of youngsters at Unity College, their hopes of finishing their studies should be greatly improved.

The school’s West and North houses are supporting 11-year-old Sibongire, who lives in Kasungu, in the centre of the African nation, with her two brothers and a sister.

Her parents are peasant farmers, clean drinking water is a 30-minute walk away and they have no proper sanitation.

It is estimated only about five per cent of children in Kasungu finish primary school – and even less complete a secondary education. They are mostly boys as there is strong pressure on girls to drop out and take part in arranged marriages. It takes Sibongire about 30 minutes to walk to school.

Nadia Hargraves, Unity College’s international development co-ordinator, said: “We are Sibongire’s only hope of finishing school.”

Meanwhile, students in the Burnley school’s South and East houses will support Senovia, whose parents are also peasant farmers.

She lives with her three sisters and faces an hour-long walk to collect clean water. Senovia also has a half-hour walk to lessons.

Ms Hargraves said: “In her area only 65 per cent of children finish primary school and 31 per cent finish secondary school. With our help Senovia will be able to finish school.”

The students found out about their chosen candidates, who will be supported until the age of 18, through the charity Plan UK.

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