Girls Education International

The mission of Girls Education International is to expand and support educational opportunities for underserved females in remote and developing regions of the world. We work with existing non-governmental and nonprofit organizations in the regions we serve. These local organizations already have relationships and infrastructures in the rural communities where we work that allow us to build upon and maximize existing resources.
Jan 3, 2017

New Year Update from Project Wezesha

Students Playing on the Weekend_Study Break!
Students Playing on the Weekend_Study Break!

Happy New Year Project Wezesha Supporters!

We wrapped up 2016 with a really cool pilot project that we're excited to tell you all about.

As most of you have learned through these reports, education in government village schools is readily available, but not always of the same quality as that experienced by the youth in urban government schools or private schools. The short list of reasons includes lack of support for ongoing teacher training, limited English proficiency of teachers and students, lack of educational resources (e.g., laboratories, textbooks, maps, technology), and long walking commutes to schools with no meals provided on site (i.e., hunger, diminished attention spans).

For quite some time, Lucas and I have puzzled over what we can do to build on classroom-based learning. For the past few years, we have been providing additional tutoring for our students between terms and after school, especially for those struggling in particular subjects. The students are always grateful, but it still didn't seem like it was having enough of an impact. Students continued to struggle in classes and some weren't finishing secondary school with marks high enough to get them into high school or vocational school.

This year, Lucas and our dear friend and fellow educator, Madaga, collaborated to develop a study camp to fill the time between school years. Following a brief break at the end of the school year, students from both the Project Wezesha and Girls Education International scholarship programs took part in a rigorous 30-day academic camp during which they engaged in the following activities:

  • 6:30am jog followed by showers and breakfast
  • 7:15am morning meeting, during which students took turns reporting in English on a topic of their choice. They have spoken on the environment, family, managing waste, student motivation, and more!
  • 7:30am start time to their classes, in which they studied English, Biology, Chemistry and Math - the subjects that generally present the most difficulty to all students
  • Midday lunch and rest
  • Afternoon classes followed by evening student-led discussion groups
  • Group dinner, then deep sleep!

Our students were transported into Kigoma town for the study camp, so they live in dorms at the host school. The participating teachers are teachers from town who use technology (including YouTube videos and projectors) to help make concepts clear. The headmaster of the host school has been so supportive of this project - he turns up each day to see how the students are doing, to encourage them, and to make sure Lucas and Madaga don't have any unmet needs.

Midway through the study camp, our students' parents traveled from the villages to visit their children, listen to updates from teachers and speeches from the organizers (Lucas and Madaga), and get a sense of the overall impact of this opportunity. They are immensely grateful for the support we've been able to provide, thanks to you!

In addition to the study camp, we have additional brief updates that we'll elaborate on in the coming months. One of our students, Diana, has been working as an assistant in a lawyer's office, but she is ready to start her own business. Khadija and Hindu are rounding the ben on their work contracts in Oman and will be returning to Tanzania to start their own business as a team. We'll helping all three of these girls through mini-capital campaigns to help them buy the equipment they need to get started. Our student Ismael is starting his final year at the vocational school in Kigoma where he has been studying driving and car mechanics.

We also launched a last minute holiday campaign in a response to a desperate plea from the leaders of Mgaraganza Village. They had no funds to buy desks and chairs for the incoming freshman at Amahoro Secondary School - 160 new students! This is, of course, a government expense, but while the government was quick to place 160 new students, it was not so quick to send funds to provide them seating. We have comitted to providing 50 desks and chairs, but the more we raise, the more we will provide. We are so grateful to those who responded immediately to the rally cry and helped us raise just over $1,000 in 48 hours so that Lucas could rush to the carpenter and put in an order in time for the start of the school year in mid January.

As ever, we are very grateful for the support you have provided along the way to help make all of this happen. Thanks to the speed with which technology is reacing all corners of the world, I now get What's App messages from Lucas, Madaga and several of our students regularly! I feel the impact of our work daily through their words and pictures. Please know that what is happening in this community thanks to the work of Project Wezesha ... well, it's powerful! The ripples may be small, but they are increasing in size and frequency! Imagine, an entire collective of small villages knows that a group of grassroots donors working through Project Wezesha has got their back--cares about their young people, and therefore their community!

I'll continue to share the updates, but make sure to also like us on Facebook so you can keep up with periodic updates and see more photos and videos. Keep an eye open for invitations to take on your own mini-projects in the coming months!

Use the sharing buttons below and help us spread the word. A little goes a long way!

Asante Sana,

Rai Farrelly & Lucas Lameck
Co-founders, Project Wezesha
www.projectwezesha.org

Morning Meeting_Giving Speeches in English
Morning Meeting_Giving Speeches in English
Measuring Learning through Periodic Assessments
Measuring Learning through Periodic Assessments
Lunch Time - even Madaga and Lucas help serve
Lunch Time - even Madaga and Lucas help serve
Student leading discussion seminar
Student leading discussion seminar
Village Leaders Requesting Funds for Desks
Village Leaders Requesting Funds for Desks

Links:

Dec 21, 2016

Girls Ed Pakistan - 2017 Year end Report

On the grounds at Taxila
On the grounds at Taxila

Despite challenging financial times, 2016 was a very good year for our program in Pakistan. As you may recall, three years ago we set out to fund secondary education for 60 girls and young women in an area of remote villages in the Chakwal district. As a result of parent and community support, we were able to extend our original budget with our partner on the ground, Bedari, to support around 100 students, and we have continued at this level. Here are a few highlights from the year:

Examinations

During the exam cycle earlier this year, 101 girls appeared for exams.

  • 35 from grades 6 and 7, and 21 from grade 8. All passed.
  • 25 girls appeared and passed the secondary exams. One girl got married, and did not appear for her exam. This year Aiman achieved the highest marks at the secondary level securing 884 out of 1050 marks. We are sure that she would receive the prize announced by the government of Punjab. The cash prize is Pak. Rs. 27,000 (US $ 270). Furthermore, this makes her eligible for fee waiver if she studies at any government college for her grades.
  • Five of the six girls who appeared for the higher secondary level passed immediately, and the other will appear again to retry the failed papers.
  • Two girls appeared for their BA (14th grade, or graduation) exams. One passed, and the other will return for the failed papers.

Self-Growth Training Sessions

Bedari conducted one day “self-growth” sessions for girls during this quarter. In 4 villages, five self-growth trainings were conducted separately. The topics of the sessions were:

1.       Self-awareness

2.       Communication Skills

3.       Our Needs and Our Rights

4.       Difference between Violence and Gender Based Violence

5.       Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights

Overall, 123 girls benefited from these trainings, among which 22 were part of our project and had graduated out of this project also joined us during these trainings.

Vocational Training

Vocational training was also given to train girls on making hand-made jewelry for different functions. Girls really liked this activity and appreciated it.

Exposure Visit

On 25th September, the girls were taken to Taxila, the destination of their choice. In this informative visit 113 people participated including the girls and members of Child Protection Committee and everyone enjoyed it thoroughly.

Taxila is an ancient city that flourished between 6th century BC and 5th Century AD. It has lots of remains from that era with a good museum, and is some 32 kilometers to the north of Islamabad.

Case Study- Iqra

Iqra and her elder sister were able to continue their educations and delay marriage by two years.

Iqra lives in Maira Aemah – one of our target villages selected in 2014 at the commencement of the 2nd phase of our project. Bedari staff met Iqra who had 8 years of education, and was not able to continue her education as the secondary school was in another town, and it involved daily commute which meant more expenditure.

Iqra’s father was planning to marry both of his daughters – Iqra and her elder sister. Iqra was just 14 years old, while her elder sister was 16 at that time.

Bedari’s program officer tried to convince Iqra’s father for not marrying her off at such a very young age. These marriages could ruin their future. The program officer further told about the problems associated with early marriage and importance of education, in every possible way.

In the meanwhile, Bedari team talked to uncle Fida, a community member, regarding Iqra’s education and the issue of marriage. Mr. Fida discussed this matter with community elders, and some like-minded people jointly talked to Iqra’s father. This helped a lot, and he finally gave in. Luckily, he not only postponed Iqra’s marriage, but also her elder sister’s.

That was the happiest day for Iqra. She got admission in Kallar Kahar High School. She was a keen observer and a very good learner. She worked really hard and made the most out of the two years she got. She not only helped herself, but also helped her elder sister. Though only Iqra went to school, yet both the sisters prepared for secondary school exam, and both appeared – Iqra as a regular student from a secondary school, while her elder sister as a private student.

Both the sisters passed their secondary exam in 2016. It was a difficult time again. Iqra wanted to study further, but her father would not agree to it. Bedari staff along with the local volunteer (Mr. Fida) and his friends tried their best, but ultimately her father did not budge from his position.

Iqra got married on September 09, 2016 when she was 16 years and 5 months old. Her sister also got married and she was 18 years old. Bedari staff were very sad that they could not get her another two years of education, but are also happy that the elder sister had attained the age of 18 years, while Iqra was also 16 years old – the legal age of marriage in Punjab.

Tragedy Strikes

Tragically, the parents of two of the beneficiary girls were killed in early August. Bedari has stepped up and is covering all the costs of their education, paying their tuition fees and books in addition to the travel costs.

Farewell to 2016

We at Girls Education International wish you a very happy holiday season, and look forward to continuing our work together in 2017. As always, it is your funding that makes these programs possible, changing the lives and futures of these young women. We thank you tremendously for your support.

Outside the museum at Taxila
Outside the museum at Taxila

Links:

Dec 8, 2016

Girls Ed December Study Camp in Tanzania

Student leading discussion seminar
Student leading discussion seminar

Dear Girls Ed Supporters,

We hope your holiday season is off to a lovely start and that you are having some peaceful, enjoyable moments with family and friends. It can sometimes feel like the world is swelling with angst and disappointment, but in truth - there is beauty and goodness all around us. For me, getting reports about our students in Tanzania is one great source of  joy. Another is being able to share that with you!

Right now, our project manager, Lucas alongside our friend and fellow educator, Madaga are leading our students through a rigorous and fruitful study camp. The idea is our response to gaps we have identified in our students' education experience. The reasons for these gaps include limited resources and high demands on teachers. Many of our students have struggled to earn good grades because they don't get the individualized attention they need to deepen their understanding of the concepts they are exploring in school.

Lucas and Madaga designed a month-long study camp (see photo of them planning), which they are implementing right now! The students come together in one village location and remain on site for the entire camp. We secured lodging for all the girls with local families and we hired cooks to provide them breakfast, lunch, and dinner during the month of study (see photo of women under the cooking structure). The schedule they are following is quite demanding.

  • They wake at 6am for personal care, a morning jog and assembly (i.e., announcements, motivational speeches).
  • At 7am they have breakfast, and at 7:30am they begin classes.
  • At 10:30am they have a quick break for tea.
  • Classes resume until 3pm at which time they have lunch.
  • After lunch, they have a siesta to recharge their bodies and minds. 
  • Afternoon consists of discussion seminars. (See photo of a student leading a discussion section)
  • After dinner, they continue with their studies in preparation for the following day.

When Madaga shared the "timetable" with me, I was surprised by how demanding it was. He assured me that the students are actually enjoying it. "It is of great benefit to them." The rigor of the schedule with time built in for self-care and reflection is providing a structure and intensity to their studies that they don't get during the school year.

The parents (photographed in front of one of the schools) came together for a community meeting prior to the study camp. They had a chance to ask questions before signing an approval letter and sending their children off to 'camp'. Lucas sent me a message via Whats App the other night to convey the parents' words of gratitude. He wrote, "They are not happy--but very very happy! They want to meet with you one day to say thank you in person because they say this is a good gift for them and their children."

This study camp is exactly the boost that students attending village schools need. In urban areas, the quality of teaching tends to be higher because teachers are more qualified and speak English (medium of instruction) with greater fluency. Students in cities also tend to get additional support at after school programs or with tutors.

Lucas and Madaga tested all students at the start of the study camp and will conduct a final assessment to measure gains through this program. We believe that we will see the impact of this intensive academic camp when our students transition into the next school year in mid-January. If successful, we hope to offer another camp in June when the students are on break between terms 1 and 2.

Of course, there are expenses for running a camp of this scale. We provide food, pay the cooks and teachers, and buy materials that teachers and students need for teaching and learning.

You can share this report and news of our work with friends using the Facebook and Twitter buttons below. Make sure to follow us on Facebook!

You can also make a donation by clicking on the Give Now button so that we can offer our girls all the support they need to reach their goals - texts, tutoring, and hopefully another study camp!

And since it's the holidays, consider honoring a friend by making a donation in their name. When you do so, GlobalGiving will give you the option of sending them a card.

Asante sana.

With gratitude,

Rai Farrelly
Executive Director
Girls Education International

Students in class at study camp
Students in class at study camp
Lucas and Madaga planning for study camp
Lucas and Madaga planning for study camp
Parent meeting prior to study camp
Parent meeting prior to study camp
The cook tent at lunch time
The cook tent at lunch time
Some time to relax and have tea
Some time to relax and have tea
 
   

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