Whole Child Model

A Dream and 15 Years

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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.

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.

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.

Scholarship Recipient: Aminatou’s Story

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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.

Taking a Test Drive: STS Researching its Whole Child Model in Guinea

Since School-to-School International was founded in 2002, one big question has driven our work: What does a child need in order to thrive in the classroom? There are many answers. No single “magic bullet” will lead to success.

This belief inspired our integrated Whole Child Model. This holistic program includes an array of activities in three areas — education, health, and engagement. Just like a car, a school is composed of a complex set of parts. All of them must function properly to ensure students are on the road to a quality education.

STS has Critical Role to Play in Helping Eradicate Extreme Poverty

Last week, Candace Debnam, School-to-School International’s Business Development Director, attended USAID’s Frontiers in Development forum. She wrote the following piece about her experience.

I recently had the pleasure of representing School-to-School International at USAID’s second Frontiers in Development forum, a major development event featuring global leaders such as Secretary of State John Kerry and engaging participants over two days packed with discussions, high-profile talks, and interactive panels on critical development issues. The overall goal was to tackle the question: How will we eradicate extreme poverty by 2030?