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Plan International Sierra Leone Girls ’Education Challenge’ Project Ends Activities

Plan International Sierra Leone Girls ’Education Challenge’ Project Ends Activities

A UKaid funded project; ‘Girls’ Education Challenge’ (GEC) implemented by Plan International Sierra Leone and consortium of implementing partners has ended its events in the five (5) districts in the Country.

This was disclosed on 20th April 2017 at a one day program organized by leading consortium, Plan International Sierra Leone (S/L) and implementing partners at the Family Kingdom, Aberdeen, and West of Freetown.

The Girls’ Education Project started since 2013 in close collaboration with the Ministry of Education Science and Technology targeting community and schools and supports 21.600 vulnerable girls and children with disabilities at risk of dropping out of Basic Education in one hundred and eighty (180) Junior Secondary Schools (JSS) and five hundred (540) Primary Schools in the five rural districts of Port Loko, Moyamba, Kono, Kenema and Kailahun respectively.

The project aims at encouraging girls’ access education and stay in school with improved learning outcomes.

Addressing stakeholders at the leave-taking program, a representative from FAWE disclosed that, through the Girls’ Education Challenge project they were able to engage in learning programs for girls, awarding scholarships to community teachers to enter teachers training Colleges and increasing access to girl’s education.

He said, a research has claimed that, female teachers teaches female pupils better than male teachers, adding that, the objective of the project is to improve visibility and promoting psychosocial support, but also acknowledged the role of families and teachers towards ensuring that girls’ go to school.

He further revealed that, the Girls’ Education Challenge project has created key successes in all the respective districts and a total of 70 teachers have been trained in addition to a vast number of disable girls access to education and other opportunities.

Community engagement and participation, he recalled, has heightened in addition to increasing awareness on disability issues and recalled how a beneficiary of the project highlighted the constraints faced by disable girls in accessing education, measuring available learning materials as one of the major concern impeding girl-child education in Sierra Leone.

The keynote address was delivered by a representative from the Ministry of Education Science and Technology in Port Loko, Mr. Sesay. He said the program is key in promoting Girl-child education in the country and recalled how a dropout is now enrolled at the Moyamba Teachers College pursuing a teacher’s certificate and described the project as quality and safe learning.

He thanked the donors for funding the project and stressed the relevance of the study group integrated into the project for girls. Various implementing partners including Open University UK, Forum for Women Educationists (FAWE) International Rescue Committee (IRC), Handicapped International (HI) amongst others share similar experiences that, the project has succeeded in increasing access to education for vulnerable girls, encourage children to remain in school, strengthening learning capabilities by providing children with bursary items including learning materials.

It could be recalled that, Plan International vision of a world where girls’ and boys’ should  realized their potentials in societies as a sign of respect to their rights and dignities prompted the partnership with parents, teachers, communities and the education authorities to actualize its vision..

The partnership has resulted to the GEC project working with 21, 600 girls’ including, 2,052 boys’ and girls’ with disability across the country.

Plan International S/L GEC has been engaging targeted children directly through bursaries and study groups with their schools through support to protection, and the accelerated learning core content roll-out with their communities through social mobilization and the Ministry of Education Science and Technology (MEST) through advocacy and close coordination.

Changing the circumstances and lives of these poor and marginalize girls’ positively, left Plan International S/L and implementing partners in the consortium with no option but to tackle the barriers surrounding girls’ education at the three levels.

This was achieved by increasing training for female teachers at primary level and also tackling gender based violence with the schools through advocacy and awareness rising.

Plan International S/L also collaborate with communities to highlights  the negative impact of earlier pregnancy and encourage families and communities to understand issues affecting children with disabilities through the parent advocacy groups and community based rehabilitation volunteers.

Plan International also hold the view that girls’ access to education is the provision of bursary items such as, exercise and text books, pens, and pencils, uniforms  to alleviate the burden on their parents in addition to encourage girls to return to school.

Beneficiary’s feedbacks on the project highlighted the importance of Mathematic and English text books as very useful to their lessons. The Ministry of Education has also admitted that, the dropout rate amongst girls in the country have drop and the dropout rate was 65% with the intervention of the GEC project.

By Ambrose Goba

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