I arrived to a school the other day with mud dripping down my neck and splattered across my white shirt and black bag. A colleague looked at me, smiled and said, "Shannon. I do not want you to be concerned. However, you are full of mud. Also, your ears and face are turning pink. You need your lotion. And a bath."
Being that we were about 45 minutes from the nearest structure-resembling-a-shop and 1 hour from the nearest location-resembling-a-town, lotions and baths were out of the question.
I wasn't the only thing that was messy. Here was our car, which I have nicknamed Dalmatian:
Dalmatian and I both had black mud on our pale exteriors:This is the school we were visiting:
This is why we are visiting schools:
Notice anything interesting about the roster? Aside from the huge overall drop in attendance, the thing that most interests me is the change in the boy:girl ratio as students age.
Why are girls dropping out in such high numbers? Lots of reasons. Pregnancy, lack of family support, loss of parents, lack of money...
How can the government, NGOs and research organizations best work with schools to change this? This is what we're trying to learn. This is why I'm happy to show up to work caked in mud.