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.
Mar 23, 2017

Spring 2017 Update

As I write this, it is the first day of spring. Spring means re-birth, continuation and growth, recommitment to what matters. It is the time to remind ourselves what we want to keep and what we need to let go of gently. We at Girls Ed International want to thank you for staying with us, for supporting us and for believing in our mission. Your involvement with Pakistan Project means that hundreds of girls will start and/or continue their education in the remote villages in the Chakwal district. During our March campaign, and in partnership with Global Giving, we raised $18,258 from 330 donors. We are ecstatic and want to thank you from the bottom of our heart.

Despite progress in recent years, girls continue to suffer severe disadvantage and exclusion in education systems throughout their lives in many parts of the world. Providing girls with an education helps break the cycle of poverty: educated women are less likely to marry early and against their will; less likely to die in childbirth; more likely to have healthy babies; and are more likely to send their children to school. When all children have access to a quality education rooted in human rights and gender equality, it creates a ripple effect of opportunity that influences generations to come. The impact of your involvement cannot be overestimated.

We are eagerly waiting to receive an update from the students themselves, which we will share with you promptly. Meanwhile we want to thank and bid farewell to the Executive Director of Bedari (our partner organization in Pakistan), Safeer U Khan. Here is his farewell note to all of us. As we wait for the images from the field, this letter creates a great visual for us about the project. Happy reading!

A Note from the Executive Director of Bedari organization, Pakistan

Education has always been very close to my heart as I believe it is the only way to bring about a sustainable change in a person’s life. Hence, when I heard that there was some American NGO looking for a partner to work for girls’ education in Pakistan, I jumped at the opportunity.

That American NGO was Girls Education International. It is a small organization but has a dedicated team that raises funds for girls’ education and then spends those funds in Pakistan and Tanzania. We worked out the details and started off with a small project supporting 30 girls in their quest for post primary level education. There has no looking back since then. I served as project manager since 2009 till March 2017 – 8 years to be exact.

We did not change the entire world, but we did change the world of a few girls. This project has lighted up lives of scores of girls, and changed the perception of girls’ education in the communities. Girls’ education is no more an insignificant issue in the communities where we work. Parents have started taking responsibility for their daughters’ education; they have found ways to send their girls to schools.

Not a single girl was going to secondary school when we entered Laphi in 2009 – a village situated in inaccessible mountains of Salt Range nearly 50 kilometers to the South West of Chakwal city. We worked there for 5 years. When the first girl under our project completed her secondary education, a teary eyed volunteer from the village told us that it had happened after a break of 30 years that any girl from Laphi had completed secondary education. Though we discontinued our project in Laphi in 2014, the village boasts of 20 girls with secondary education, and 24 more girls are going to secondary school these days without any support from any NGO or philanthropist.

We, then, expanded our program, and moved to another 4 villages to repeat the same process. Currently, we are supporting around 90 girls in these 4 villages. So far, we have helped 84 girls to complete their education up to secondary level, 17 more girls up to higher secondary level, and 2 girls up to graduation level. (Secondary level is 10 years of education, higher secondary is 12 years, and graduation is 14 years of education in Pakistani Education System).

We have not only supported girls in going to school, this project had many additional benefits for girls. The most important of the benefits was delaying their marriages. [5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals]. Most of these girls would have been married before celebrating their 16th birthday, but only 4 out of 130 girls were married before reaching their 18th birthday. The remaining 126 girls married after attaining the age of 18 years.

We took girls out on study tours, and it was for the first time that most of these girls stepped out of their town. They saw some historical places of their own district for the first time. These exposure trips are a great boost to the girls’ confidence, and their empowerment. The most important feedback from girls was that they could not believe that they could shout, scream, and sing as per their own liking during these trips.

Another important additional support was Self Growth Sessions – these sessions facilitate them in learning various life skills including communications and negotiations skills, dealing with sexual harassment, confidence building, decision making etc.

These activities – education, sessions, exposure trips, trainings – transformed them from meek and submissive girls to bold and confident girls, who can take their own decisions, and can negotiate with people around them to achieve whatever they want to achieve in their lives. Education coupled with their confidence and other life skills helped some of the girls take up jobs. Around 10 girls have taken up jobs, and a few more have started working from home (home based jobs). This has led to their economic empowerment. It was a great turn around for Bedari. It helped parents realize why Bedari insisted on girls’ education. Parents learnt that girls can also earn, and they are not a mere burden – they are not just mouths to be fed, but living human beings who can support others if provided with opportunities.

Though I am leaving Bedari now, I am proud of having played crucial role in designing, and implementation of this project, and I am sure this project will go on and achieve many more milestones. I would request all supporters of Bedari and GEI to continue supporting this wonderful project, and I assure everyone around that I will be available for any kind of support needed to keep this project going. I will always be a call (or an email) away.

Thank you Safeer and again to all of you for your generosity!

Till we meet again,

Tamrika Khvtisiashvili

Pakistan Project Manager

Girls Education International

Mar 10, 2017

Report on the December Study Camp

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

Dear Girls Ed Supporters,

In this project report, we'd like to share with you some highlights from our December Study Camp. Throughout the year, our students attend 9 different secondary schools, as determined by the Ministry of Education based on their national exam scores. But in December, Lucas and Madaga brought all of our students together to attend a rigorous 30-day study camp. The students were engaged in learning activities starting at 7am every morning. After a break in the day for lunch and a nap, they returned to school for afternoon classes and evening discussion seminars. On the weekends they enjoyed time to play sports and relax together on the campus of Kichangachui Secondary School in Kigoma town.

Collaborations for Success

The headmaster of Kichangachui was crucial to our camp's success. He provided classrooms for lessons, rooms for boarding, water from their tanks, and access to the school’s technology tools: printer, photocopy machines, laptops to prepare tests and reports, and a projector to use instructional media. He also provided first aid when students had stomach or head aches. Given that they were there for an entire month, he also provided essential feminine hygiene products for the girls so they could partake in their studies without interruption.

The participating Kichangachui teachers were committed and enthusiastic. They employed innovative, learner-centered teaching approaches. They organized group discussions and encouraged students to articulate their understandings and unique persepctives. The students were encouraged to work together, learn from one another, and support each other throughout all learning experiences. They also focused on defining their academic and career goals.

In the Words of our Students

Through reflective journals and interviews, Madaga collected some feedback from our students to share with you. Here is what some of the girls had to say:

On facing challenging subjects with competent, supportive teachers:

“I used to hate Mathematics and English Language right from when I joined in form one, now I have realized that learning mathematics and speaking English language is simple, what is needed is to make thorough practice”

On gaining confidence with English:

“We used to feel shy to speak in front of others fearing that they would laugh to us, but now we are in a solid position to speak English wherever we are. Our camp has indeed helped us”

On being able to articulate their goals and ambitions:

“We have been groomed in such a way that now we can learn under determination for our future, some students aspire to be doctors, teachers, pilots and others engineers. We real acknowledge our donors”

On being a girl student:

“Living in one place under good care and supervision has helped us to avoid from peers and temptations especially the boys who used to harass us by convincing to engage in sexual relationship with them which actually ruined our academic progress. This is because many girls face environmental constrains because they find themselves lacking proper guidance and counseling necessary to achieve their goals”.

Attending boarding school is a best-case scenario for girls in Tanzania, but it's not an option for everyone. While we can’t change the situation of our girls and move them all into boarding schools, we can continue to provide these study camps between terms. Through these intensive summer camps, we believe that the girls will continue to foster deeper relationships with another, develop life-long goals, and improve their academic skills.

Measuring Outcomes

Each Saturday, they took a test to assess learning from the previous week. Test scores recorded during the camp showed improvements across subjects for all students! One of our students tested very low on the first math test in the camp. By the end of the camp, she had improved greatly and hopes to continue on an upward trajectory. She had this to say:

“I am happy that I used to hate mathematics but this study camp has enabled me to know proper way of studying mathematics, I have improved gradually in just a month I am about to score higher grade than the previous where I scored poor. I will use the skills that I have gained here in order to perform well in mathematics because my major is science combinations where mathematics is paramount.”

Another positive outcome of the camp was that parents saw the impact! They gained a renewed appreciation for the value of their daughters' education.  They saw that with this intensive support, the girls' academic skills improved and they gained clarity about their futures. One parent said the following:

“I extend appreciation to our donors and the entire management of Project Wezesha and Girls Ed for their humanitarian support to our children. My daughter has improved academically, she is now having a good morale of studying. Also she has promised us that through the program, she will advance her career.”

Facing the Challenges

While our first study camp was a great success, we also faced challenges that we will have to address in future camps. We ran this camp on a shoestring. For $2500 we housed and fed 41 students for 30 days, we paid teachers, we bought materials, and we supplied food and hired a cook to prepare three meals a day. For our next camp, we will have to increase the budget by a minimum of $750. We must be able to provide first aid, reliable transportation to the hospital in case of emergency, additional cooks in the kitchen, and additional paper and ink for printing tests. The headmaster of the host school supported us in overcoming these deficits during our December camp, but our goal is to cover these costs on our own in the future in order to maintain our 'in kind' support from the headmaster and the school (space, boarding, classroom equipment). 

Looking Forward to June

We are very excited about our June camp! Thank you for being among those who care for our girls in Tanzania! Stay tuned for updates in June. I will be over there for the first two weeks of the camp and I'm really excited to co-teach some lessons, collaborate with the headmaster, and see the magic unfold!

Please consider passing along this report with the sharing buttons below! Let everyone know about the impact you're having!

Asante sana,

Rai Farrelly
Executive Director
Girls Education International
www.girlsed.org

Lunch Time - even Madaga and Lucas help serve
Lunch Time - even Madaga and Lucas help serve
Test Time
Test Time
Reflective Writing
Reflective Writing
Feb 21, 2017

The Role of Labs in STEM Education

Creative Kid Engineers
Creative Kid Engineers

Dear Project Wezesha Supporters,

Our STEM labs are coming right along. The picture (below) from November shows some of the recent work that was done to build the roof for the laboratory. The building codes for labs ensure appropriate ventilation so that our students are safe when working with different chemicals.

Each time we interview our students about what career they are interested in pursuing, the most frequent responses include engineer, doctor and nurse. With these interests in mind, we're so excited that Amahoro Secondary School will soon have a designated space for students to study science, engineering and math hands on. Even our students who wish to be teachers will need a sound STEM education so that they can become the future Science and Math teachers of Tanzania.

“In the 21st century, scientific and technological innovations have become increasingly important as we face the benefits and challenges of both globalization and a knowledge-based economy. To succeed in this new information-based and highly technological society, students need to develop their capabilities in STEM to levels much beyond what was considered acceptable in the past.” (National Science Foundation)

The reality is that technology is not slowing down so that everyone's STEM literacy can catch up. More and more young people have smart phones, even in remote villages. They are using What's App to communicate across borders. They are using Google and YouTube to learn about the world beyond. But, along with these technologies, it's crucial that they develop important higher order thinking and reasoning skills to question the value and legitimacy of what they are consuming online. STEM subjects provide excellent strategies for developing these skills and many more!

According to the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), students must be encouraged to use observational data and problem-solving as they explore science, technology, engineering and math. This is most successfully accomplished through hands-on learning experiences. NSTA argues that students should have opportunities to collect data every week in laboratory or field settings. Fortunately, Amahoro Secondary School is situated in a perfect environment for field experience - the ecology of the area is very diverse and rich with indigenous trees and native species. Laboratory experience will broaden the science knowledge base they need to advance their studies and compete in the workforce.

In addition to science knowledge, laboratory experience contributes to the development of important 21st Century skills including communication, creative and critical thinking, and collaboration. Most of our students have boundless creativity, just look at the amazing bikes they build from branches and twine (see picture above). With a little support from qualified teachers to explore problems methodically, imagine what they can make happen!

We'll keep you posted and send an update from the field when I return to Tanzania in June!

Much gratitude for your continued support!

Sincerely,

Rai Farrelly
Co-Founder, Project Wezesha

Builders Framing Roof in Lab
Builders Framing Roof in Lab
 
   

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