Investment in Girl Child education
Investing in girls’ education is one of the most leveraged and cost-effective investment that a nation can make. The Adolescent Girl’s Initiative is a scale-up of a program implemented by the Centre for Girls’ Education Zaria aimed at improving the social, economic and health wellbeing of rural and low income urban adolescent girls in Northern Nigeria through increased access to education, sexual reproductive health services and life skills. The Adolescent Girl Initiative (AGI)—an expansion of the innovative girls’ program is aimed at keeping girls in school by improving their core academic performance through participation in mentored safe space girls clubs and providing opportunities for the girls to build trusting relationships and acquire critical sexual and reproductive health knowledge and life skills not currently offered in government education. AGI is designed to support girls as they progress from primary to junior secondary school—a critical time for school withdrawal and early marriage
The Adolescent Girl Initiative model evolved over 8 years community-based research with rural girls, their parents and religious leaders by the Centre for Girls Education (CGE). A range of interventions was studied and the most promising was selected as the core of the Adolescent Girl Initiative.These are focused community engagement, mentored tutoring in safe space clubs, reduction of school fees or the provision of books, and support of female teachers. When these strategies were explored together during the pilot study in select schools, the participating girls’ transition rate from primary school to junior secondary increased from 25% to 97%. Moreover, secondary school graduation rates increased from 4% to 82%. A pilot programme targeting 400 girls was conducted in Zaria in 2015. The success of the pilot led to the present scale-up.
The Adolescent Girl Initiative anchored by Center for Girls Education (CGE), is supported by UNFPA and is targeting 9650 primary 6 adolescent girls, ages 10-14, living in Local Government Areas with high maternal mortality, early marriage, and out-of-school girls. The program is implemented by 3 organizations; Girl Child Concerns (GCC) in Kaduna, Centre for Girls Education (CGE) in Zaria and Nana in Kebbi state. So far GCC has reached 2,025 primary six pupils and is reaching 750 JS1 adolescent girls. Girl Child Concerns has so far implemented the Project in 2 Local government areas (Igabi and Kaduna South) in 9 secondary schools as well as 29 primary secondary schools. We have equally been able to reach over 140 female primary/secondary school teachers, parents, traditional and religious leaders in communities. The girls are mentored by female teachers in their schools once a week for two hours, after school closing hours. The intervention has equally through mentor trainings, strengthened the capacity and skills of the female primary school teachers mentioned, who have been selected and trained as mentors.
To contribute in improving the social, economic and health wellbeing of rural and low-income urban adolescent girls in Northern Nigeria and build their assets through increased access to education, sexual reproductive health information, services and life-skills that would positively impact on health choices.
The specific objectives of the AGI in the two states are to:
- Increase girls’ secondary school enrolment, performance, and rates of graduation, thus delaying age of marriage;
- Expand opportunities for girls to acquire a broad range of relevant SRH and other life skills (e.g., self-expression and negotiation);
- Develop leadership opportunities for adolescent girls;
- Enhance assets of girls including advocacy and communication;
- Refine and improve program effectiveness (through operations research); and,
- Increase the knowledge and skills of female teachers to mentor effectively.
Project activities are divided into three core components , designed to address parental concerns and build on lessons learned of key elements that improve girls retention. These 3 components are;
- Reducing Social and Economic Barriers to Secondary School Enrolment and Completion through;
- Enhancing Core Academic Competencies, Life Skills and Relevance of the Curriculum
Mentored Girls’ Safe Space Clubs
- Developing and building Adolescent Girls’ Leadership
The program from inception has engaged local government education authority officials to ensure sustain. Program started in 2016 and was officially expected to endin December 2017 but a no cost extension has been secured and its rounding up in june 2018. for the finished product by GCC. As part of the mentoring, GCC also trains the scholarship beneficiaries in communication skills, computer application, paper presentation, group works and leadership training. For their voices to be heard, the youth need to be trained on how to communicate effectively and convey meaningful information to & with people, how to give good presentations, address stage fright and present the right message