With the help of 21 triathletes running for our cause, multitudes of donors and a lot of heart, AGE Africa was able to raise enough to support scholarships, career guidance and life skills training for 120 young Malawian girls. Many of these girls come from schools that are new to AGE Africa, Thuchila Day Schooli and St. Mary's Girls Boarding School and we are very excited to be expanding out partnerships with different schools. Scholarships are imperative in making secondary education possible, covering both the obvious and the hidden costs of education. Being able to provide scholarships for these 120 girls is a massive success because investing in them creates 120 new leaders and role models for other young girls in Malawi.
Part of their leadership development lies in the career guidance and life skills curriculum that AGE Africa provides to supplement classroom learning and we are thrilled to say that beyond the 120 girls we are supporting with scholarships, we are able to support over 300 more with career guidance and life skills training alone. Recent data collected in our alumnae survey suggests that our supplementary curriculum has been very effective in helping AGE Alumnae make informed decisions about their future. For example, AGE Alumnae wait an average of three years longer than the Malawian national average to get married and have children. Even more impressively, 100% of AGE Alumnae said that since learning with AGE Africa, they would "stand up to a man who tried to hurt them."
We now have 120 girls supported by scholarships, and an even greater number of blossoming leaders who are on their way to becoming AGE Alumnae standing up for themselves, making informed and responsible decisions, and making positive changes in their lives! Many of them have younger siblings, such as Aswema (pictured) who is already helping her younger siblings work hard for their education.
Since January AGE Africa has gained 15 new students and one new school partner! Please see pics of our new students! There are now a total 77 young women in Malawi pursuing a secondary education through scholarships provided by AGE Africa, and two matriculating to university. Our goal is to support 120 girls in our scholarship program by year end. We are well on our way to achieving this, but we know that a scholarship is not enough to ensure each of our girls will finish school. That is why AGE has designed an extra-curricular program that targets the multiple causes of dropout. Beginning in January 2012 every scholar at every school site will have access to AGE Africa’s full curriculum comprised of career guidance classes, a guest speaker series, and peer led life skills education. Additionally, AGE will reach 350 other young women from eight rural schools through a partnership with Malawian NGO The Girl Leader Empowerment Program (GILEP). This spring, GILEP's work has touched the lives of 150 girls at four rural schools in Malawi's Southern Region.
In February, AGE Africa was invited to join the UN Foundation’s Coalition for Adolescent Girls – an advocacy group focused on improving the lives of girls around the world by concentrating on such issues as education, health care, protection against violence, HIV/AIDS and child marriage. The impact of our extracurricular program will now extend well beyond our students and Malawi!
In March, we implemented our first survey of our graduates through a partnership with George Washington University. This is the foundation for a system that will allow us to track students’ success over time and help us learn how to better serve those still in our program. In May the results of our Alumnae survey were released and show that 91% of AGE Africa students complete all four years of high school, and that on average AGE Africa scholars wait three years longer than other girls their age to get married and have children. In 2011 100% of our graduating class qualified for higher education--something that less than 1% of girls nationwide.
In the fall of 2011 AGE Africa will begin to offer its complete Mentoring Program to 62 young women at 4 public schools in Malawi. After almost 2 years of piloting pieces, designing and honing our curriculum to meet our students needs, we are finally ready to scale this critical addition to our scholars' learning.
We know that scholarship provision is critical for our girls’ success, but have also learned that scholarships alone are not enough to get students to the academic finish line. This is why in 2010 AGE Africa added a mentoring program to target the multiple causes of girls’ dropout. Research on girls education in Malawi and elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa, suggests that cost is just one of many reasons why 73% of girls drop out of school before graduation. Distance to school, early pregnancy, early marriage, lack of knowledge about career paths, and the value of education all contribute to the low retention rates of female students. AGE Africa’s mentoring program offers two tracks of extra-curricular education that are designed to halt this attrition by helping our young women cultivate the ability to IMAGINE a future that's different AND the power to ACT to achieve it.
Unlike traditional scholarship programs that fund fees-only bursaries, AGE Africa’s success rate is a result of a unique three-pronged program strategy:
Comprehensive scholarships that cover the entire cost of secondary school.
Peer-Led Life Skills Education that focuses onsexual and reproductive health education & peer-led mentoring that is badly needed in a country with high rates of HIV and early pregnancy. Our curriculum seeks to build leadership, self-advocacy skills, knowledge of sexual and reproductive health (SRH), as well as gender-based violence, in order to reduce dropout based on these issues. Our innovative curriculum is grounded in youth participation, and youth development as the fundamental approach to adolescent engagement.
Career Guidance Education that encourages students to pursue continuing education post graduation as well as help students to identify how they can use their education to develop incomes and support their families back at home. Our curriculum focuses on exposure to multiple career tracks, how to access tertiary education, as well as small business entrepreneurial skills.
Tertiary Transitions Program that helps those from the most impoverished communities access tertiary educational opportunities once they qualify. In 2011 AGE Africa launched its Tertiary Transitions program, to coach and subsidize entrance examinations for vocational training, Teacher Training College, Nursing School, and University for all our students who qualify for such opportunities. We are currently awaiting the exam results of our first cohort.
This FULL curriculum is being implemented at all four of AGE Africa's school sites with 62 studets as of September 2011. We need your help to ensure our students continue to receive this vital curriculum throughout 2012.
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