We want to make sure girls can stay in school, improve their grades, and realise their academic potential. In the last decade there has been significant progress in reducing the gender gap at primary school, and now as many girls as boys attend primary school. Unfortunately this isn’t the case in secondary education. For every hundred boys in secondary school, there are only seventy-seven girls. One area where you can see the results of unequal access to schooling is the adult literacy rate; only 17% of women are literate, whereas 42% of men can read and write.
Girls and young women face many barriers to education. Low household income and cultural values that prioritise the education of boys mean that girls are the first to miss out on school when times are tight. Girls bear the burden of household chores and often lack motivation and positive role models. The school environment and teaching practices often do not cater for girls, meaning that school is not a welcoming environment. By directly addressing these issues we can help girls overcome the difficulties they face in getting an education.
We want to run three small pilot projects working with girls in three different schools. The projects each seek to address a different barrier to girl child education:
- Income generating support to families of girls that would otherwise be unable to stay in school. The support and training offered to families would be conditional on their children remaining in school.
- Establishing a mentoring scheme that links successful local women with girls to offer them the advice, motivation and support to stay achieving and attending school. The scheme will happen in girls’ clubs, which will also offer fun and educational activities and talks.
- Promoting girl-friendly teaching by training teachers to include, value and support girls through their education.
The ideas behind these projects were established with our Girls Education Steering Committee after consulting with schools and students, and they spring also from primary research as well as desk research. Similar projects have been run successfully by other organisations elsewhere, so there is a good amount of evidence supporting their effectiveness. However we want to run the projects as pilots so we can be sure these activities will work well in the Ethiopian context and be effective in helping girls to stay in school before we consider scaling up.
What stage are we at?
In 2014 we conducted our own research ‘An Investigation into the Barriers to Female Education in Link Ethiopia Schools’ to seek to identify the major challenges facing girls in education. In 2015 we established the Link Ethiopia Girls’ Education Steering Committee, a community-based group comprised of local women from a range of backgrounds who meet monthly to guide Link Ethiopia’s girl child education policy. They have reviewed our research and brought their own ideas to develop three pilot projects to be run in the Amhara region. We are currently seeking funding for these three projects, which we will then run in the 2016-17 academic year.
What can your money do?
- £10 Funds one fun and educational group activity for the Girls’ Club;
- £25 Pays for five sessions of extra tuition for 10 girls who are falling behind;
- £50 pays for ten sessions of extra tuition;
- £100 Funds an initial income-generation grant for one family, and provides them with the advice and support needed to make their business a success;
- £150 Pays for a trained counsellor and health specialist to come regularly to the school to work with the girls club;
Fund a programme
Many schools have Girl’s Clubs already, however they are poorly resourced and can’t offer the support girls need. We want to support the Girls’ Club in one secondary school, by providing careers advice sessions, extra tuition and counselling, to boost the confidence and motivation of girls in school so that continue with their secondary school education.
Secondary schools tend to be male-dominated environments, with male students, teachers and administrators outnumbering girls and women by some way. We want to run training sessions so that teachers and directors are more able to make classes and the school environment more girl-friendly, promoting their inclusion and attendance in school.
Many girls do not attend school as they are required to work to contribute to their family’s income. Micro-loans will allow families to make an investment that provides a steady income, reducing the need for girls to work, and enabling them to regularly attend school. Support and training for income-generating activities will be targeted at the families who are least able to support all their children in education. The grants are then paid back over time, creating a sustainable fund for issuing grants.