A Year in Guinea

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—reaching over 2,600 students in Guinea in the 2015-16 school year alone.

But what does that look like in practice? Below is a snapshot of this year in Guinea.

A Holistic Approach to Girls’ Education

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.

Recently, we partnered with the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative to produce a case study, A Holistic Approach to Girl’s Education—School-to-School International’s Whole Child Model, which examines how the Girls’ Education Program improved education, health, and engagement while addressing factors that hindered girls’ success in school.

Today, we’re happy to share some of the key findings of the report:

STS & Fidelity of Implementation Research

Imagine this scenario: A school is struggling to reduce its dropout rate. To this end, administrators implement two changes — teachers must provide more detailed feedback to students after exams and take attendance every class period. After a year, since more students have dropped out as compared with previous years, administrators determine the interventions did not work.

That conclusion may seem cut-and-dried, but consider these questions: What if the teachers hadn’t actually implemented their mandates? What if only a quarter of teachers had made the required changes? Could administrators still say that the new mandates had no effect on reducing student dropout?

New Project Announcement

School-to-School is pleased to announce its partnership on the Selective Integrated Reading Activity in Mali

USAID supports the Government of Mali’s long-standing goal of improving learning outcomes in the early grades. In 2012, Mali experienced a coup d’état followed by extremist group takeovers in the north and a suspension of international aid. The situation put immense pressure on the country’s education system, with a flood of internally displaced persons arriving in the south, including primary school-aged children. Pre-existing low levels of early grade literacy acquisition were compounded by the country’s instability, threatening previous gains.

The Selective Integrated Reading Activity (SIRA) is a five-year, USAID-funded activity that aims to improve 1st and 2nd grade reading outcomes in the local Bamankan language in target regions of Mali. The activity will also reinforce and strengthen the capacity of the Government of Mali/Ministry of Education to select education delivery systems in a manner that fosters sustainability. STS will serve as a key partner in improving early grade reading data collection, analysis and reporting systems. We will collaborate closely with Malian government stakeholders to build capacity at centralized and decentralized levels to monitor learning gains and use this information for policy dialogue and decision-making.

Letter from Board Member Kevin McLaughlin

Dear STS Supporters,

As a member of the STS Board of Directors, I have a special place in my heart for education and providing opportunities for youth who are so often overlooked. My passion stems both from my experiences as the son of an English teacher and from my experiences teaching high school English as a Peace Corps volunteer in Lezha, Albania.

I had the privilege of teaching some amazing, highly motivated students who were so eager to learn English from a native speaker. My experience was challenging, yet so rewarding. I recall outdated methodologies that promoted rote memorization over free flowing conversation, students huddling together in the winter in unheated classrooms and grading tests by candlelight during power outages. Those experiences have in part shaped who I am today. They’ve given me an immense appreciation for education and the impact it has on our children.

Staff Stories: Mabinty, Scholarship Recipient

Mabinty- scholarship recipient

Written by Mamounan Kpoghomou, STS National Coordinator – Guinea

Mabinty Soumah is a young girl who has attended Wonkifong elementary school in Guinea for six years. She lost her mother when she was only two years old. Mabinty has lived with her aunt, who is also her teacher, since first grade. Mabinty is hardworking, punctual, and studious. Her aunt, Mahawa, has six children of her own. She is the second wife of a farmer, who has a total of 13 children. The family survives on the food they grow and the fish they catch. The two wives struggle to make ends meet to support their numerous children and husband, whose earnings are practically nonexistent. By accepting to take in her sister’s orphan, Mahawa has endured great hardship to provide food, clothing, and school supplies to all of the children under her care.

Staff Stories: Open Letter to STS Supporters

Written by Drew Schmenner

Dear STS Supporters,

Girls are too often pushed aside or overlooked in the developing world. It’s a distressing truth I learned firsthand as a Peace Corps volunteer in the West African country of Niger more than a decade ago. That experience stoked my interest in girls’ education, so I’m particularly excited that we are raising money for the girls’ education components of our Whole Child Model in Guinea as part of our annual campaign.

Staff Stories: Girls’ Empowerment

Posted by Lauren McAskill

School-to-School International’s 2015 Matching Campaign focuses on empowering girls through education. From now until October 15th, your donation to this cause will be doubled. Many of STS’s own staff members have witnessed the power of investing in girls. Today I am sharing a personal experience that speaks to the effectiveness and sustainability of initiatives that empower girls. During my time in the Peace Corps in West Africa, I helped start my village’s first female soccer team. The picture on the left was taken in 2011 after the team’s first big win, and the picture on the right is the team in four years later, in 2015.

Scholarship Recipient: Aminatou’s Story

2015- Aminatou Family -3.1

Since 2002, School-to-School International has impacted the lives of thousands of students in Guinea through our Whole Child Model, an integrated set of activities centered on the three sectors of education, health, and engagement.

Empowering girls is a key focus of the model. Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, we gave 30 scholarships to girls last year. We also raised awareness about the benefits of girls’ education by conducting community workshops and ran after-school programs for at-risk children, with a special emphasis on girls.

This marks the second week of our fundraising effort devoted to our girls’ education activities. We have the special chance to double the impact we make in the lives of girls, thanks to an awesome contributor who has offered to match all donations during this campaign.

STS Kicks Off 2015 Matching Campaign!

School-to-School International (STS) is excited to announce its 2015 Matching Campaign! From now until October 15, we can double the impact STS makes in the lives of young girls in primary school in Guinea.

Based in the Bay Area, STS has implemented its unique Whole Child Model in the West African country of Guinea since 2002. Our holistic approach ensures students have all they need in order to thrive in school through focusing on three areas of need — education, health, and engagement.