Meet Beta, an endearing, bright, 8 year old Malagasy girl. She lived right down the street from us in Ambalavao, with her mother and four other siblings. She would be the one her mother would send to the market to do errands. She would be the one dragging a bag of charcoal home from a neighbor for her mother to cook with. And, despite such skinny legs and frame, she would usually be doing these tasks with her younger sibling tied to her back.
On school days, I would sometimes see her doing chores when she should have been in class. I would ask her why she wasn’t at school. She would tell me that her mother needed help with one thing or another. This never seemed to be the case though for her cousin, Pelota, who lived next door to her. Pelota was always in school when she was supposed to be. Yet, I noticed, Pelota was never given the responsibility to buy the vegetables for the day’s meals.
There are already so many reasons that children drop out of school and miss out on the education they so badly need. Being bright shouldn’t be one of those reasons. Yet, little Beta, who could be the superstar student, is destined to being a superstar Cinderella.