Guinea

Dear STS Supporters: Fatoumata’s Story

Dear School-to-School International supporters:

Three years ago, I met a fourth-grade student named Fatoumata Diouf at STS’s partner school in Filimia in the Boke region of western Guinea. She was an ideal candidate for the girls’ scholarship program. In addition to meeting all the scholarship criteria, Fatoumata showed exceptional promise and enthusiasm for learning while also facing a particularly difficult home life. Fatoumata is one of these special cases.

Dear Girls of Guinea: You are Improving Your Communities

Dear Girls of Guinea,

I write to thank and congratulate you and your families for your commitment to continuing your education and learning.

I know that school itself can be challenging, and that finding time and space to do your homework and study for exams requires hard work and creativity every single day. Finding the money to pay for school fees or uniforms can make enrolling and staying in school difficult. Finding the time to do your homework can be difficult when you need to take care of your brothers and sisters or when there’s housework that needs to get done.

Dear Girls of Guinea: Empowered, Educated Women are Necessities

Dear Girls of Guinea,

I know how hard you work every day, not just in the classroom, but also at home. I realize fetching water from the well or helping to cook a meal may seem more important in the eyes of your family and your community, but I hope you realize what’s most important—your education. I understand water and food are necessities for a thriving community, but so are empowered, educated women.

Dear Girls of Guinea: I Hope You Find Comfort in Your Studies

Dear Girls of Guinea,

Congratulations, you are halfway through the school year!

Thinking back to when I was a girl around your age, I remember the excitement that the half-year mark brought: I was now one of the older “cool” kids at school and that much closer to the next grade. But I know there are some challenges too.

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:

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.