E1 ran for house prefect last term. She wrote a speech and went around her school campaigning. There were three girls and a boy competing for two positions. After the votes were cast and counted, E1 had the second highest vote. The highest vote was 9, she scored 8, the boy scored 3, the other girl one. E2 saw the collated votes and excitedly told her sister ‘well done, you got it’. She told me too.
Imagine then my shock the next day, when E1 came home from school a couple of days later, and told me the other spot had gone to the boy. I was furious. This was on a Friday evening, so there wasn’t much I could do other than let off steam at the school office. I also emailed the secretary expressing my extreme displeasure.
A meeting was scheduled witht the headteacher to discuss my concerns. During the meeting, she said the posts were traditionally filled by a boy and a girl, so the second post had gone to the boy. I contended that this fact had to been made clear to the candidates at the time, and this had made a mockery of the whole process. I then asked if her gender was the reason E1 had not been given the post, and she replied that it was. I said to her I was pursuing the matter further as I felt E1 had been cheated out of what was rightfully hers. She responded by saying the term ‘cheated’ was a bit harsh. The meeting ended with my telling her I wished to make a formal complaint, and would do so in writing in due course.
I wrote a letter the next day, outlining my grievances, and also pointed out that gender discrimination was illegal. This is a paragraph from the letter
”As I said yesterday, my daughter was cheated by your decision to award the
position to a lower scoring candidate. You expressed that the word ‘cheated’
was too strong, I however must confess to having been restrained in my
speech. The word I actually had in mind was ‘robbed’. I do not understand
why the principle of equal opportunities was denied to my daughter, and how
come the school is comfortable to pass the message across that her gender is
a deterrent to her achieving her set goals, should there be a lesser qualified
male seeking the same position.”
Two of my friends helped me in the composition and the editing of my missive. I eventually got a response. The school was not budging. So I appealed to the chairman of the board of governors in December.
In the meantime, E1 had been offered other positions in compensation. I told her it was okay for her to accept them, as long as she made it clear she was still holding out for the position she was elected to. In the end, she was made the Buddy Prefect, and given the resposibilities that the post entails.
All through this time, I impressed upon her how important it was to stand up for one’s rights, no matter the overwhelming odds one faced. It was a lonely fight, as some people either didn’t see the big deal in what had happened, or thought even though it wasn’t right, I should let it go. I learned to keep my own counsel, and table the matter before God in prayer. Constantly.
A month after I had written the letter, I sent a reminder to the chairman as I hadn’t gotten any response. He replied apologising for the delay, promising to get back to me eventually. I sent two more reminder emails, neither of which were acknowledged.
Last week, I was at the end of my tether. On Wednesday, I ranted to a parent about how I was ready to go the local paper. I am a private person (contrary to what my incessant selfies on Facebook might suggest), and even though I was loath to do it, I was at the point where I was willing to sacrifice privacy to get some sort of redress. She said I should give the school an ultimatum. I intended to, but I wasn’t quite ready.
Then on Friday, at the close of school, I was handed a letter by the secretary. She said it was from the headteacher. Unlike me, I ripped it open once we got to the car. The long and short of the letter was that E1 had been awarded the prefectship!
Boy! Was I pleased. I turned to my daughter and said ‘You see why it is important to stick to your guns and fight for your rights?’ She nodded, with joy brimming out from her eyes. She knew what the letter said, as it had already been announced at that morning’s assembly.
So there it is. I have made tried to make this as succint as possible. It is one of the reasons I hadn’t been writing, it is hard to write when there are things on one’s mind clamouring for attention. I am happy I decided to return to this blog in spite of this, and other yet to be resolved issues. I am thankful to God, and the faith I have in Him through Christ Jesus. I believe He went ahead and fought on our behalf even though it seemed nothing was happening in the natural.
There are areas in which the school fell short of what is acceptable, but I have learnt to choose my battles, and stay focused on my goal.
I am trying to bring up my daughters to know that there are no limits to what they can achieve or how far they can go. They understand that success can only be achieved through great effort. They know that sometimes, they would have to stand and fight for their rights, and I hope they know I would always have their backs, as God gives me strength.
This is my life as I live it, thanks for stopping by