‘I want to be an example for the project’
In Sierra Leone, 16-year-old Ramatu was on the brink of having to drop out of school. Without enough income to keep all their children in education, her parents wanted her to start work as a market trader. But Ramatu was able to join the Girls’ Education Challenge and now she’s an outstanding pupil.
"Before the Girls’ Education Challenge, I was not used to studying, or taking part in school activities, but now I study every day," Ramatu explains. "I want to be an example for the project and help other children who are in the same situation to me.”
A new generation of leaders
When girls can access education, the benefits also reach their families and communities. Girls’ education can:
- support a reduction in child marriage, child and maternal mortality, and child malnutrition
- help girls engage with politics and ensure they’re represented – human rights that all girls should be able to realise
- enable girls to participate in leadership and democracy and increase female representation, which is positive for decisions on issues from health to climate change
- contribute to more stable, resilient societies that give everybody the opportunity to fulfil their potential.
Adapting to a changing world
We know that girls are worst affected by health crises like coronavirus. That’s why, as the pandemic continues, we’ve adapted our projects, working closely with communities to ensure girls can keep learning while schools are closed, and return to education as soon as possible.
- In Zimbabwe, we’ve adapted teaching and learning materials and provided training to over 400 volunteers. This is enabling girls to continue their education via phone, at community-based learning groups, and at home if they have a disability or are pregnant. We’ve also been sharing information with girls, community members and volunteers on coronavirus, how to access services if girls are unsafe and checking on girls’ mental health and wellbeing.
- In Ethiopia, we’ve developed messages for radio broadcast about the risks girls face in lockdown. Now that schools have started to reopen, our priority is to help 1,500 girls in their last year of primary school to make the transition to secondary school.
- In Ghana, we’ve helped the government broadcast lessons on a special TV channel so children can learn at home. We’ve also been supporting the girls in our project with home learning and provided cash transfers to those most at risk, to make sure their families can meet the costs of their return to school.
- In Sierra Leone, we’ve made sure the most vulnerable girls have received food distributions, school supplies, and dignity kits with hygiene and period products, to meet their immediate needs. We’ve also developed learning materials and are running after-school study groups and girls’ clubs, using mobile phones to support home learning.
Learning in lockdown
In Zimbabwe, the Girls’ Education Challenge provided Yollanda, 12, with her first opportunity to learn, as her parents had been unable to afford her school fees – but everything changed when the coronavirus pandemic hit and her learning hub had to close.
Since then, our team of community educators have been providing support over the phone, and Yollanda has been able to share the information she’s received with her friends and family, to help them stay safe.