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Trigger the Girl Effect in Afghanistan

by BRAC USA
Trigger the Girl Effect in Afghanistan
Girls in a BRAC school participate in group work
Girls in a BRAC school participate in group work

Gender disparity is especially striking in Afghanistan’s education system. Afghan boys entering primary school today can expect to complete eight years of primary education, and in many cases, move onto secondary and tertiary education. In contrast, girls can expect to complete only five and a half years of primary education on average before dropping out of school.

And for many girls, education is not an option at all. In Afghanistan, 38% of school age children remain out of school, the majority of whom are girls.

However, thanks to generous supporters, BRAC renewed its girls education project last spring, and as a result, continues to improve the educational outlook for Afghanistan’s most marginalized girls in ten provinces.

We also continue to innovate. In its initial phase, the girls education project emphasized community-based primary education for girls. But as more and more girls graduate from these primary schools, BRAC is now placing an additional emphasis on transitioning these girls into a quality secondary education.

To facilitate gender equity as this level, BRAC will establish and operate hundreds of community-based secondary schools, expanding on its successful model for primary schools.

BRAC also recognizes the importance of skills training for youth, and it will begin to transition  girls into vocational training programs and government secondary schools. In government schools, it is focused on building the capacity of teachers to address educational inequities and support girls with a relevant and quality education.

For girls participating in these varied forms of secondary education, BRAC has also introduced complementary extracurricular activities and mentoring designed to empower girls with the resources and confidence to succeed.

One such example is our Adolescent Reading Centers, which provide a support system and safe space for girls as they transition into secondary school, whether that be at a community-based school, government school, or vocational center.

Adolescent reading centers are more than just a place for adolescent girls to read. They function as safe spaces where girls can socialize with their peers; participate in activities like debate and magazine club; learn income-generating livelihood skills in areas like tailoring, embroidery, and gardening; develop leadership skills; and gain confidence and self-esteem.

To date, more than 2,500 girls regularly meet at 100 adolescent reading centers in Afghanistan. Of this group, nearly half have participated in life skills or livelihood training. And every girl reached by these centers can access this support system to continue learning.

We thank you for your continued support in our quest to provide all Afghan girls with a quality education. Together, we can continue to improve girls chances of completing secondary education programs and reaching their full potential.

Adolescent reading centers provide support system
Adolescent reading centers provide support system

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Students at a BRAC school in Afghanistan
Students at a BRAC school in Afghanistan

For Rozy, education used to be a dream.

When she was a little girl, Rozy’s father passed away. Today, she lives with her mother and sister in Sheberghan City, a small city in the north of Afghanistan.

Rozy’s mother sustains the family by picking up manual labor jobs when she can. This kind of work barely pays enough to live on, and Rozy’s mother struggles to afford the government school fees for her two daughters.

Rozy also has a physical disability, which can be particularly challenging in her small city that lacks comprehensive and inclusive services. Despite these obstacles, Rozy has always yearned for an education. In fact, her aspiration to learn only grew larger in the face of them.

Things changed in 2013, when Rozy turned 12. BRAC started building community-based schools in Rozy’s neighborhood, especially for older girls who had been left out of the government school system. Since the school was free and just a short walk away, Rozy’s mother, understanding the value of education, enrolled her two daughters.

Thanks to contributions from supporters like you, Rozy sat in a classroom for the first time in 2013. She was excited, happy and, most of all, grateful. For her, education was no longer just a dream.

Four years later, as the school year came to a close in 2017, Rozy successfully completed her last year of primary school. Her eagerness to learn remains unchanged, but because there were no government’s middle schools nearby, Rozy did not expect to continue her education.

Fortunately, thanks to your support, BRAC recently started the Girls Education Challenge Transition Window program, which offers secondary, higher secondary and vocational educational training for girls. On October 1, BRAC launched the vocational component, with 40 vocational education centers opening across 40 districts in ten provinces.

“Once again, BRAC came to my support,” Rozy said recently. The news means that she could continue her education and, a few weeks ago, she started sixth grade.

Despite the barriers facing her, Rozy never misses a day of school. Her dream is to complete twelfth grade and become a teacher. She wants to create the opportunities that she has had for other girls who also could not go to school because of economic, social, or other challenges. For Rozy, teaching is not only a profession, but also a way of giving back.

“I will be a teacher, igniting the light of education for the girls living in marginalized context in Afghanistan,” Rozy decided.

Indeed, Rozy has already ignited the girl effect with her inspiring dream.  

Immersed in lessons in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Immersed in lessons in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Imagine you are an eight-year-old girl who lives in a small province of Afghanistan. You keep all your notebooks and pencils in a secret place like treasure. You walk to school every day, just a short distance from your home. At school, you play with your friends and study subjects from science to language. You work hard, determined to become a teacher with your own classroom full of children one day.

You are the girl effect that BRAC wants to trigger in Afghanistan with its education program. BRAC connects marginalized girls with educational resources, teaches and develops new skills, and improves their access to opportunities. For example, the primary education provided by BRAC community-based schools helps girls transition to government schools, community secondary schools, or vocational centers. In all, since our last report, more than 30,000 girls have made that transition, enrolling in 300 government schools.

The program has also provided more than 7,500 adolescent girls with access to a non-traditional education that enhances learning through discussion and play. Across more than 250 community-based secondary schools, students are also taught core subjects, such as mathematics, English, biology, chemistry and physics.

BRAC ensures the quality of these schools by training the educators first, in the process engaging more than 500 female teachers and 600 student organizers. In addition, BRAC incorporates co-curricular activities such as debate, mentoring, art and personal health. As a result, girls not only thrive academically, but they also develop empowering qualities such as self-esteem and leadership.

Finally, the project’s core interventions address poverty in Afghanistan by providing stipends to children of extremely poor families, alleviating financial burdens so that they can focus on learning. The program also addresses other challenges that can hamper learning. For example, schools are built within each community, minimizing the distance students must walk from home to get to school.

As our kindness enables us to put ourselves in each other’s shoes, our imagination nurtures our ability to hope. And so, with one more girl after another in school, this incredible effect ripples forward. Thank you for your commitment. We look forward to sharing more reports with you.

The project operates across 10 provinces.
The project operates across 10 provinces.
An Afghan student in a BRAC community school.
An Afghan student in a BRAC community school.

Thanks to your support over the last four years, the Girl Effect is in full force in Afghanistan! Marginalized and out-of-school girls in rural communities are gaining access to education and thriving within community-based schools. They enjoy active roles in co-curricular activities, greater confidence and increased engagement in their own learning.

Since 2012, BRAC has established 1,670 schools for girls and provided access to an education to close to 50,000 girls. Just 1.9 percent of girls left school, while almost 9,000 girls graduated, of which two-thirds have continued their education in government schools or vocational centers. In a country where less than a quarter of students complete lower secondary education, this is an important achievement.

You also helped train more than 4,000 girls as mentors. This group of girls has shown outstanding leadership qualities and a growing level of self-esteem. That has had a positive impact on the other girls, especially their 36,000 mentees, who benefit from academic and peer support.

Another key element of the program is the stipend provided to girls from extremely poor families. The students who receive this stipend have previously left school because their families could not afford to provide them an education. About 6,000 girls received a stipend and, after returning to school, they had consistently better attendance and a high level of academic achievement. The stipend program also had a positive impact on families and communities, as they began to recognize the influence that education had on their children.

As this project comes to a close, you have made possible the following accomplishments:

  • 2,000 teachers were trained in pedagogy and content for English, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Biology
  • 4,023 student mentors were trained to support 35,949 girls in their education
  • 6,000 girls from extremely poor families are back in school after receiving a stipend to reenroll
  • 25 school buildings were constructed to improve learning environments in government schools

However, BRAC is excited to share that it will continue to power the Girl Effect in Afghanistan for another eight years through the continuation of our community-based education program. It will sustain and expand the Girls’ Education Challenge in ten provinces to reach over 200,000 more girls, and mobilize more resources for future education projects for Afghan girls.

BRAC will also continue working with the Afghan Ministry of Education to meet its goal of universal enrollment for children aged 7 to 15. Thank you for investing in girls’ in Afghanistan. With your continued support, more girls will grow up empowered with an equitable education.

Your support made possible
Your support made possible
Enrollment rates
Enrollment rates
Girls in a community-based school in Afghanistan.
Girls in a community-based school in Afghanistan.

Last year, we told you about a storytelling competition for primary school girls in Afghanistan. It aimed to foster communication skills in students, develop positive reading habits and improve awareness about personal health, hygiene, history and culture. It was one of the biggest successes of the year, and we hoped its popularity would prove contagious.

Thanks to your support, it did, and we far exceeded our storytelling competition target of 6,000 students - with almost 12,000 children participating, more than 90 percent girls! As the larger Girls Education project enters its final six months, we want to share with you some more of the key accomplishments you have made possible, as well as some of the toughest challenges.

In Afghanistan, girls face systemic, institutionalized barriers to receiving an education. This project set out to empower young women and girls by triggering the girl effect in Afghanistan: coordinating with government officials from the Department of Education, training female teachers, creating safe spaces for adolescents and educating primary school girls who otherwise would not receive an education – all to support Afghanistan as it works to ensure every eligible child is enrolled in school by 2020.

From the start, the project’s core was the establishment of many community-based schools, cutting down on the distance between girls and their schools, and making sure those schools were safe spaces to learn. With six months to go, we’ve again surpassed our goal, establishing 4,000 new schools. We also built 17 multiple-room schoolhouses and 22 separate modern toilets.

To staff these schools, you supported the training of almost 4,000 schoolteachers in English, Maths, Chemistry, Biology and Physics, and 138 government officials. All received training to support gender inclusion and equity in the classroom.

Peer mentoring is another important part of the project. Studies show that one of the best ways to encourage new behaviour is through peer counselling. We continue to support the more than 4,000 girl mentors who were trained in specialized classes to help their peers.

Finally, girls can only have access to an education insofar as their parents support it. To ease the burden on the poorest families, BRAC instituted stipends for girls who had dropped out. These were girls with exemplary attendance records, but whose families could no longer afford to send them to school. The stipend innovation proved massively successful, ensuring high performance and attendance from 98 percent of the recipients. We are looking for ways to sustain this program past the project end.

From an original ten provinces, over three years the project expanded to ultimately include 12: Baghlan, Balkh, Bamyan, Herat, Jowzjan, Kabul, Kandahar, Kapisa, Nangarhar, Parwan, Samangan and Maidan Wardak.  Throughout it, security remained a pressing concern, as did gender discrimination. BRAC also encountered unexpected challenges: students migrating out of their local school zone in the summer due to high temperatures; a dearth of quality female teachers in remote regions; difficulty locating at-cost land suitable for construction.

Still, after the project ends in February 2017, with your help, BRAC will have trained thousands of local women as community school teachers and set up thousands of primary schools for girls who would have otherwise been left behind. With your generous support, we’ve worked closely with communities to raise awareness of the importance of educating girls, and engaged other NGOs to help get girls in school.

We are grateful to you for supporting equitable access to quality education in Afghanistan. BRAC believes that a focus on women and girls is a critical component of achieving development goals and alleviating poverty worldwide. With your continued support, together we will ensure the education gap in Afghanistan disappears entirely, one day just a whisper of a tumultuous past.

 

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Organization Information

BRAC USA

Location: New York, NY - USA
Website:
Project Leader:
Walid Sghari
Finance Manager
New York, NY United States

Funded Project!

Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
   

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