In 2016, we published A Holistic Approach to Girls’ Education, thanks to support from the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative. The case study captured our innovative efforts to help girls and inspired us to do more, including inviting Guinean women to share their career stories so girls could broaden their professional interests. Our girls’ education activities include a scholarship program, which provided a bag of rice monthly to 47 girls in 12 schools. The support made a difference. Eleven scholars finished in the top five of their class, and eight moved on to secondary school.
As we expand the Whole Child Model to Tanzania, we remain committed to promoting gender equity in primary schools, with families, and beyond. While the specifics of our approach will change to reflect the new context of the Arusha District, by assisting with education, health, and engagement—the Whole Child Model—we are working to ensure children have the support they need to thrive.
For the past few months, you have heard about STS’s expansion of the Whole Child Model to schools in the Arusha District of Tanzania. And while it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of expansion—and indeed, I very much want you to be excited with us—you may also be wondering why Tanzania?
Children are not learning. Over 59 million children will not go to school this year—half of them live in sub-Saharan Africa. Of the nearly 30 million elementary-age children who are out-of-school, half have never stepped foot in a classroom. Girls are impacted far more than boys, accounting for 55% of out-of-school children. In Tanzania, girls are more likely to become child brides than they are to attend high school.
Although the links between girls’ education and improved quality of life and economic growth are well known, school-age girls in Guinea continue to face conditions that limit school success—from systemic impediments, such as shortages of qualified teachers, to cultural factors, like the practice of early marriage.
As a result, many female students leave school before completing the primary school cycle. Less than half of school-age girls in Guinea regularly participate in primary school (47.7 percent) and only a quarter (25.9 percent) enroll in secondary school (UNICEF 2013). It is a striking figure and one that has been a driving force in STS’s Whole Child Model.
For more than a decade, School-to-School International has implemented and refined an approach that embodies our founding principle: In order for students to thrive, they must have their basic needs fulfilled. We have pursued activities from all three components of the Whole Child Model—Education, Health, and Community Engagement. This year, we are committed to expanding the geographic reach of the Whole Child Model to benefit children in the Arusha District of Tanzania.
Children face numerous challenges receiving a quality education around the world. In Guinea, West Africa, less than half of boys and only a third of girls make it to 7th grade. Not surprisingly, only one in five adolescent girls can read.
Since 2002, STS has been working in Guinea to try to change this pattern. We’ve trained teachers, dug wells, built latrines, supported parents, and funded scholarships for at-risk girls – all to improve children’s chances of staying healthy, learning to read and do math, and transitioning to secondary school. And our research has shown results. Parents who have attended our trainings report that they have changed their behavior to ensure their girls do well in school, and stay in school. And our research shows that girls do significantly better in reading and math when they receive scholarships – a powerful motivator for staying in school.
STS joined USAID and ECCN for a webcast on What’s Good Enough? Strategies for Data Collection and M&E in Conflict Zones
Have you faced challenges in data collection efforts while evaluating activities in conflict or crisis zones? Do you wonder what the best research design is, given the constraints you’re facing? Have you considered how to adapt findings for stakeholders with differing agendas?
Fifteen years ago, School-to-School International was created to realize a dream:
If we provided kids with support in education, health, and community engagement simultaneously, they could thrive in their early years and thus have a greater chance at success in life.
We started in Guinea, West Africa in 2002, in schools most of us would barely recognize: dilapidated buildings, overcrowded classrooms, broken furniture, few books, and no electricity, water, toilets, or food. Teachers came and went, many holding second jobs to make ends meet. Students struggled to access and engage in their education.
A unique aspect of School-to-School International’s work in Morocco is the use of officials from the Moroccan Ministry of Education and Vocational Training (MOE) as enumerators, or data collectors, for the Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA). Good enumerators are vital to the success of an assessment because they assure students that they are not being graded on their responses and create a relaxed atmosphere for the students when conducting an oral assessment of their literacy skills. This positive environment prepares the students to perform to their best ability while being tested. Using Ministry officials as enumerators builds their capacity and enables them to continue to conduct assessments after the project ends. This model had even farther reaching effects in Morocco because, through continuous participation and involvement, the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training took greater ownership of the project.