Overhauling One Country’s Entire Educational System with @katiemeyler
October 11 is International Day of the Girl Child. Explore the #dayofthegirl hashtag to see more people supporting girls’ rights around the world, and for more from Katie, follow @katiemeyler on Instagram.
The girl is 16. She is dancing on a rooftop near the ocean in Liberia with friends, including Katie Meyler (@katiemeyler), a 33-year-old activist and photographer from New Jersey who changed the girl’s life. “I met her in the slums. She was 11, and she asked me to help her go to school. So I did,” Katie says, making the role that she and her organization More Than Me (@morethanmeorg) have played in helping one of the poorest countries in the world sound dead simple.
One year after Katie opened the More Than Me Academy, a school for girls where students see the phrase “I promise to make my dreams come true” every time they walk up the stairs, Ebola broke out in Liberia. Katie didn’t flee. She fought the disease. “It was the worst hell you could imagine, and it was also ecstasy,” she says. “You had a common goal and it was urgent.”
Now, Katie’s aim is to overhaul Liberia’s entire educational system, using the academy as a model. “If Liberia remains vulnerable, our girls are vulnerable to health crises and war and extremist groups that are not far away,” she says, adamant that part of supporting girls is making sure boys have access to quality education, too. “We’re pro-women and children. We’re pro-men too. We’re pro-people. Everyone can make Liberia stronger.”
According to GirlUp, more than 40% of Liberian girls ages 10-14 have never gone to school. Unfortunately, young girls fall victim to the most frequently reported crime in Liberia, rape. Before the war in 1989, Liberia had over 2,400 schools. After 2003, Liberia only had about 480 remaining.An extra year of primary school boosts girls’ eventual wages by 10 to 20 percent. An extra year of secondary school: 15 to 25 percent. When women and girls earn income, they reinvest 90 percent of it into their families, as compared to only 30 to 40 percent for a man.
The More Than Me Academy is the first tuition-free, all girls school in Liberia. Not only do they give these girls an education, but they also provide them with two hearty meals a day, access to healthcare, access to a computer lab and library, and a robust afterschool program, ensuring the girls are off the street for the entire day from 7am to 5pm.
You can imagine how excited we are to have More Than Me’s founder/CEO, Katie Meyler as our guest for tomorrow’s givchat! Follow givology and @MoreThanMeORG on twitter as well as the #givchat hashtag WEDNESDAY July 30 (tomorrow!) at 7 PM EST to join in on the dialogue and ask questions about her organization and the causes they address! :)