Maurise Amuiuhaire is feeling competitive. The excitement is building ahead of the weekend when she, and her fellow members of her school’sDebating Club’, will travel to take on the speakers of nearby sister school Hibiscus in a battle of words.

It’s a challenge they are not taking lightly and practice has intensified over recent weeks.

Language prefect at PEAS Bridge High School, 17 year old Maurise organises the club’s weekly debate which, in recent weeks, has covered such topics as ‘Is the Ugandan government viable?’ and ‘Are girls entitled to receive an education?’

“As you can imagine the debate on girls education was quite interesting”, says Maurise. “On this occasion the boys formed the opposition and the debate lasted for two hours”.

Regardless of their position in this specific debate, Maurise believes that boys at school are supportive towards the girls.

We are seen as equal. The boys encourage the girls and we have our own voice. Because of this, we are more confident.

"The Debating Club is great for girls because we need to be able to express ourselves in public and make ourselves heard.”

Despite today being World Day of Social Justice, there is no justice in the fact that less than 25% of girls have access to education after primary school because they were born in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Secretary-General to the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, says, “Let us strive to build a world of social justice where all people can live and work in freedom, dignity and equality."

What do we think of when we hear the word ‘unjust’? The last minute goal our football team concedes after dominating the match? Or a car cutting in front of you at the traffic lights?

PEAS believes in social justice for all.  All children should enjoy an education that unlocks their full potential, no matter where they happen to be born. That’s why PEAS works to increase access to affordable secondary education in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Statistics show that a girl will earn significantly more income in her lifetime if she has secondary education. This will help her to elevate herself, and her family, out of poverty and build a future with a solid education at its foundation.

She will also be less likely to contract HIV. In Africa, over one million adolescent girls are living with the condition yet, with a secondary education, studies show girls are three times less likely to get HIV. This, in turn, leads to statistics showing that a girl enrolled in secondary school is more likely to delay her sexual debut, decreasing her lifetime risk of contracting HIV.

One final point about the impact of secondary education. It reduces child mortality rates. In Uganda, teen pregnancy rates are high and the country has the third largest teen pregnancy rate in Africa.70% of girls have given birth or are pregnant with their first child by the age of 19. Mums who’ve been to secondary school double the chances of their children surviving beyond the age of five. It's a fact that the increased number of educated women over the past 40 years has reduced child mortality by 50%.

With her talent for debating it’s no surprise that Maurise is hoping to take a law course when she finishes school. As subsistence farmers her parents have very low incomes and they have made huge sacrifices to educate their seven children including paying for Maurise to board at school.

“At home there are lots of disturbances and distractions and I have to help out with all the domestic chores. At school, it’s a really great atmosphere for work and our teachers are always on hand to help. They are really easy to approach.”

The competition against Hibiscus School will be played out on the sports field as well as in the debating hall since a football match between the two schools is also lined up for the weekend. At Bridge, girls play football as one of their sports and Maurise is a keen player.

“I’m striker – number nine,” she says proudly. “We can’t compete with the boys at football, but we can definitely compete with them in the classroom.”

Libby Hills is Education Manager at PEAS.

For all media enquiries please contact:

Mike Niles
Communications Manager, PEAS
Skype: mike-niles
[email protected]