IN SOCIETIES where tradition and modernity interact, the debate surrounding early marriage is far from straightforward.

The question is whether early marriage is a blessing or a curse depends on various factors, particularly when considering its impact on learning opportunities in life.

This complex issue calls for holistic examination of cultural values, social development and individual rights.

At first glance, proponents of early marriage often argue that it is profoundly ingrained in cultural practices and has been an essential part of many societies for centuries. These proponents view marriage as a way to uphold tradition, maintain family honour and provide young individuals with a sense of stability.

While those arguments are valid in their context, the consequences of early marriage on learning opportunities cannot be ignored.

EARLY MARRIAGE can potentially discourage access to education for young girls, thereby limiting their opportunities for growth and empowerment. When girls are married off at a young age, they often face pressure to prioritise household responsibilities over their education.

This early shift in roles not only deprives them of the chance to complete their formal education but also sustains a cycle of gender inequality.

The impact of early marriage on learning opportunities extends beyond the immediate denial of education. Married adolescents are frequently subjected to adult responsibilities, which further restrict their ability to engage in personal and educational pursuits.

The demands of marriage and child-rearing can result in missed schooling, decreased  motivation and limited exposure to diverse experiences.

Overtime, these factors can lead to a lack of skills and knowledge, hindering their capacity to contribute meaningfully to their communities and economies.

The health implications of early marriage cannot be overlooked. Physical and emotional immaturity places young brides at higher risks during pregnancy and childbirth. These health challenges not only endanger their lives but also exacerbate the cycle of poverty and illiteracy.

In the light, it became evident that early marriage's potential to limit learning opportunities has far-reaching effects on multiple aspects of an individual's life.

Nonetheless, it is important to recognise that early marriage is not solely a curse. In some cases, it might emerge from a place of agency and choice, particularly in contexts where cultural norms are respected, and the individuals involved have a say in their decisions.

For instance, some cultures view marriage as a way to safeguard girls premarital  relationships or provide financial security.

In these cases, the challenge lies in striking a balance between tradition and the pursuit of education and personal growth.

To challenge this complex issue, comprehensive strategies are necessary. Lawmakers, educators and community leaders must work to create an environment where girls can fulfill their capabilities without compromising their rights or cultural values.

This can involve exhaustive laws that set a minimum age for marriage, providing financial incentives for families to delay marriages until after a certain age, and offering alternative pathways to education for married adolescents.

Moreover, education campaigns can play a pivotal role in raising awareness about the consequences of early marriage on learning opportunities and overall well-being.

Engaging with families, communities and religious leaders, these campaigns can challenge misconception and promote a more balanced perspective on the benefits of education and empowerment.

The question of whether early marriage is a blessing or a curse depends on myriad factors. While it is embedded in cultural practices, it often poses challenges to learning opportunities, prolonging gender inequality and limiting personal growth

The debate forward involves finding a delicate equilibrium respecting tradition and ensuring progress. It can break down barriers of early marriage by using smart plans.

These plans focus on education, boosting girls' power and valuing different cultures. This approach ensures that each girl can enjoy their right to life.

The World Students Society thanks author  Saira Samo,  an educationist.


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