After years of education, a girl will always end up in the kitchen. You are a boy, you cannot cry. As a girl, you cannot run for class prefect. You must settle the bill to prove you are a boy. You were raped because you were wearing that skirt. It is ok to beat a girl to show your superiority as a boy.
Steadily, Exponential Education seeks to ease these and many other pathetic narratives which have been engraved in the minds of many.
What are the steps we are taking? We call it the Safe Haven Approach.
When it comes to issues about gender, the argument is nothing new. Progress has been made but there is still more work to be done so that the lot come to the realization that all human beings were created equal, regardless of whether you are male or female.
At Exponential Education, we acknowledge that it is not easy to have teenagers confide in anyone about their personal struggles. So, firstly, we establish the trust. This is where it gets dicey: How do the students trust you when they barely know you? We also admit that trust cannot be earned in just a day so we continue to give the assurance during each Girls in Leadership and Empowerment Action Program (Girls LEAP) and Boys for Positive Change (BPC) lesson that “their secrets are safe with us”.
The lessons are comfort zones because students get to freely express themselves in the absence of their teachers, parents and guardians. Teenagers prefer to talk to their friends so we make them our friends.
These past few months have been a learning curve for us as well. As much as we deliver the lessons, we do this in an open forum manner so the students also get to express their views about the topic being discussed.
There have also been many instances where we have used our personal experiences to advise or teach the students about certain aspects of life by giving hope to the hopeless and letting them know it is possible if only they are determined.
We are most grateful to Exponential Education for this platform to inspire and serve as role models to others who feel secure enough to confide in us.