Mi Hermanita – My Little Sister - Expands as 2014 School Year Begins
Program Evaluation Launched to Measure Outcomes and Impact
Children across Guatemala are returning to school this month, embarking on a school year that runs from mid-January to the end of October. In San Pedro Sacatepéquez girls starting their last year of junior high/middle school (called básico, roughly equivalent to 7th, 8th & 9th grades) are especially excited. Why? Because this year all 300 9th graders in the 13 rural básicos across San Pedro can become a Big Sister and mentor a Little Sister in 2nd or 3rd grade, helping her with schoolwork, motivating her to try her best, and inspiring her to stay in school.
Having piloted Mi Hermanita in five schools during 2013, the Guatemalan staff is poised to expand the program to all of these schools. With this expansion, Mi Hermanita will engage directly with some 600 girls, i.e., Big and Little Sisters combined, along with each of their 600 mothers and many teachers.
According to Marianna, one of last year’s Big Sisters, (pictured below in the middle of two others, each preparing for her next meeting with her Little Sister), “Being a Big Sister to Alicia taught me a lot about myself. Because of her admiration and affection for me, I’m inspired to work even harder in school and be a good example for her. I’m so excited that Alicia is doing better in school, too, and she hardly ever misses a single day anymore! I really look forward to our get-togethers every week and so does she.”
The first workshop of this school year for cooperating teachers and school principals took place just last week. The program veterans among them eagerly shared with their colleagues the positive changes they’ve seen in school attendance, academic performance and self-confidence among both the older and younger girls who were in the pilot program. Working with what we’ve all learned from that experience, this year promises to be even more successful.
Adding to this prospect, during 2014 our participatory programs that support the Big Sisters will be offered on regular basis during their school day. This is a direct result of the program’s recognition and certification by Guatemala’s National Ministry of Education, along with only 12 other organizations nationally. This accreditation also places us in a select network of organizations that itself is a rich resource for sharing best practices and benefitting from one another’s experience promoting girls’ education as the most promising path out of poverty for communities across Guatemala.
Assessment and evaluation efforts looking at program effectiveness and impact will also be stepped up in this school year. Thanks to the professional leadership of WWT’s newest Board member, RoseMarie Perez Foster, Senior Research Specialist at the University of Colorado, Guatemalan staff has agreed on an evaluation design, collaborated in developing the required instruments, and has been trained in interviewing techniques, data collection, entry and compilation, etc. Beginning in mid-February, they will collect baseline data for all program participants and for a set of control schools. This will be compared to data collected in the fall at the end of the school year to assess changes, if any, in measures of school commitment and success, literacy achievement, self esteem, self efficacy, and the like.
As always, it takes more to do more. Your continued and increased financial support is key to this expansion and evaluation. This program is highly valued in all of these communities, motivating and inspiring them to send girls to school. Many thanks…your donations actually do change lives!
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