Advancing Girls’ Secondary Education towards SDG 4 and 5
In Burundi, only 14% of girls complete secondary school (UNICEF, 2013). The main reason cited is teen pregnancy. In a rural community like Kigutu, in which our organization Village Health Works (VHW) operates, young girls do not partake much in school or community activities. They are mainly confined to house chores leading to a lack of perspectives for them which in turn contributes to the increase in early marriages and in girls’ drop-out rates.
The VHW Girls’ Program is meant to increase girls’ participation, performance, and retention in school through an after-school program (health education, academic support, sports, arts and craft) and a summer camp; the multidimensional approach aims at providing a safe space for girls to thrive both academically and personally.
Full idea description:
The ECOFO Kigutu/VHW Girls Program concerns girls of 5th grade to 9th grade. We chose these grades because they correspond to the age group of pre-adolescents and adolescents who are the most at risk in terms of teen pregnancy and dropping out; and also because students of these grades only have regular classes in the morning.
1. The after-school program is four-fold:
♣ Education on girls’ health: a trained female facilitator meets regularly with each group to teach about menstruation, hygiene, and making reusable sanitary pads. This activity is an example of concretely creating a safe space for the participants to freely discuss specific matters and challenges they face as girls.
♣ Sports: girls have their own handball and volley-ball teams to give them opportunities to practice sports and to aspire to take part in regional and national competitions. The objective is to develop their competitiveness, self-confidence, and team spirit.
♣ Arts and craft:
o Girls have their own traditional dance group.
o Girls learn to make jewelry with kitenge (local fabric).
♣ Academic support:
o Girls pair up to be study buddies, i.e. academically strong girls regularly meet with a peer who needs support with homework and exam preparation.
The after-school component is a school-year long program.
2. The summer camp:
During the school holiday between July and September, girls are invited for a week-long summer camp, whose main objectives are to build their character, to hone their leadership skills, and to broaden their perspectives and aspirations.
o Going to field trips to visit Women’s Association and Girls’ Association in the capital city, universities, and any other relevant venues and events.
o Movie night during which girls watch movies or documentaries on outstanding women throughout the world.
o Attending talks featuring women guest speakers to motivate and inspire them.
o Diverse activities and workshops to develop their eloquence and public speaking skills.
Category of focus:
- Decrease in the number of teen pregnancies.
- Decrease of drop-out rates for girls.
- Higher transition rates to post-fundamental school (upper secondary school) for girls.
This program can be implemented in both urban and rural settings. As long as there are rooms to meet and sports fields to use.