31.05.2023 Article

The Shattered Dream of the Brilliant Village Girl: An Institutional Failure or Breakdown of the Extended Family System?

By Ebenezer Quaye
African little girl during her English class - Getty ImagesAfrican little girl during her English class - Getty Images
31.05.2023 LISTEN

But for Ama, There is “No Sweetness Here”

In every corner of the world, dreams are woven, hopes are nurtured, and aspirations are kindled. Such dreams often find their roots in the hearts of young girls, who envision a future filled with endless possibilities. However, the realization of these dreams is not always a smooth journey, especially for those born into rural communities. This article explores the story of the brilliant village girl, examining whether her shattered dreams are a result of institutional failure or a breakdown of the extended family system in Ghana.

The Brilliant Village Girl:
The sad story begins with a young, talented girl, hailing from a remote village where education and opportunities are scarce. Against all odds, she manages to defy societal expectations and shines academically. Her brilliance captures the attention of teachers, and even local leaders who recognize her potential. This village girl dreams of escaping the limitations of her circumstances, breaking the cycle of poverty, and achieving great things. It is not her fault to be needy but circumstances have caught up with her.

Institutional Failure:
While the girl's dreams burn bright, she soon realizes that the institutions that should provide support and enable her growth are either lacking or failing her. The education system in rural areas often faces severe challenges, such as inadequate infrastructure, insufficient resources, lack of support from extended family, and a shortage of qualified teachers. Limited access to quality education hampers the brilliant village girl's chances of receiving the education she deserves.

The Breakdown of the Extended Family System.

Certainly! The "breakdown of the extended family system" refers to a decline or disintegration of the traditional extended family structure within a community or society. The extended family system typically includes multiple generations living together or in close proximity, with a strong emphasis on interdependence and mutual support.

Nuclear family structure: The prevalence of nuclear family structures, comprising only parents and their children, is diminishing the role and significance of the extended family. This shift often occurs as societies urbanize and adopt a more individualistic lifestyle. Societal shifts towards individualism and the pursuit of personal goals weaken the emphasis on collective family values and interdependence and consequences are dire in the Ghanaian context.

The breakdown of the extended family system has impacts on individuals and society as a whole and the Story of Ama is no different. She can hardly remember any family member she can go to for support, after her dad, is all hope is lost. Currently out of school due to the unbearable hardship her family is facing after the death of her mother.

Extended families traditionally provide a strong support system, offering emotional, financial, and practical assistance to their members. This system is not available to support Ama to realize her dream. The advent and adoption of the nuclear family system of age, is leading to a breakdown of our popular Extended family system, when this system breaks down, individuals experience a loss of support, leading to increased stress, isolation, and difficulty in coping with life's challenges.

In those days families support their members when the need arises. But the breakdown of this system has left the young girl with no source of support and to her “ there is no sweetness here” after the loss of her mother. Social media of late is full of appeals for support, “Help save the life of this, help pay the hospital bill of that” Where is our popular extended family system that was able to support families when help is needed?

In the past families supports and take care of the life of the children left behind when a relative passed on, but the dream of Ama is on the verge of ending in shambles due to weakening intergenerational bonds in recent years. Extended families before, serve as a bridge between different generations, fostering strong intergenerational bonds, and the passing down of traditions, values, and wisdom. With the breakdown of the extended family system, these bonds may weaken, resulting in a loss of cultural heritage, decreased opportunities for learning from older generations, and a sense of disconnection.

I want to use this medium to advocate for support for extended family members, community groups, government agencies, local foundations, and international donor agencies. Let us institute a more inclusive and robust approach by extending a helping to underrepresented and deprived communities and families by strengthening and resourcing institutions to enable them carry out their duties. Dreams and talents are to be supported and realized not shattered, together we can make this world a better place where everyone including girls can rise and thrive.

Written by
Ebenezer Quaye
Girl Rising Ambassador.