The Adolescent Girls Initiative for Learning and Empowerment (AGILE) Project is dedicated to enhancing the accessibility of secondary education for adolescent girls, funded by the World Bank. Its primary objective is to collaborate with the government to address a wide range of challenges that hinder girls’ empowerment through education, particularly in northern Nigeria. The initiative employs a comprehensive and cross sectoral approach to tackle the various obstacles on both the demand and supply sides of education. AGILE leverages secondary schools as a platform to empower girls by imparting education, life skills, health education (covering topics such as nutrition and reproductive health), promoting awareness and prevention of gender-based violence (GBV), enhancing negotiation skills, fostering agency, and promoting digital literacy skills.
AGILE Activity in Borno
From November 2022 to October 2023, a collaborative effort between GCC and Bo-AGILE has focused on training 283 teachers as mentors in Borno State, spanning all local government areas except for Abadam where it is inaccessible due to insecurity. These mentors are now poised to pass on their knowledge and skills to students in 107 schools throughout the state. This initiative encompasses 61 schools in Borno Central, 12 in Borno North, and 36 in Borno South, aiming to benefit 50,500 individuals in the state by 2026
The training program was conducted in three zones within the state, where a range of topics, including self-realization, adolescent reproductive health, communication, and social challenges, were discussed interactively by various experts. Remarkably, the project has already seen substantial enrolment, with 10,341 participants, including 8,555 girls, currently undergoing training in safe space sessions within their respective schools
One significant highlight was the Safe Space Supportive Supervision conducted across the state in August 2023, revealing a surge in interest among girls. This newfound enthusiasm is evidenced by girls actively joining safe spaces, displaying positive behavioral changes, and parents noticing and applauding these transformations. Moreover, community and religious leaders are increasingly willing to engage with the program, recognizing its importance. Mentees now feel comfortable discussing their challenges with their mentors, fostering open communication that was previously elusive. Additionally, out-of-school girls have expressed substantial interest in the safe space initiative.
Furthermore, school principals have reported a positive shift in their schools’ atmosphere and culture as a result of the safe space activities. This project’s overarching aim is to empower adolescent girls with essential skills and knowledge, enabling them to make informed decisions that will positively shape their lives. Ultimately, these empowered girls are expected to become economically self-sufficient and capable of pursuing their ambitions and aspirations.
AGILE Activity in Kebbi
In Kebbi State, GCC has partnered with the World Bank to implement a crucial Life Skills component of the AGILE project. This initiative extends its reach to 100 secondary schools distributed across the four prominent emirates in Kebbi state, namely Gwandu, Argungu, Yauri, and Zuru. The primary objective is to train mentors and establish “Safe Spaces” within these selected schools.
The success stories emerging from Kebbi state are indeed impressive. Over 98 schools have effectively enrolled 90% of their SS1 and SS2 students into the program. Furthermore, more than 50% of the curriculum has been successfully covered, and mentees have demonstrated a passionate desire for the continuation of the safe space program upon resumption. The impact is visible in various ways, with increased student attendance, longer hours spent in school, and even some teachers expressing their interest in joining the program as mentors. It is evident that this initiative is not only enriching the educational experience but is also perceived as an integral part of the school’s curriculum.
The target of the project is to enroll 35,000 individuals in these safe spaces. Currently, a total of 7,214 participants are undergoing training on life skills and reproductive health, while an impressive 34,108 have already enrolled. These vital skills equip students with the capacity not just to survive but to thrive in their lives. They learn to conduct regular income-generating activities, including vocational training, which ultimately enhances their financial literacy and income-generating potential. Additionally, parents are witnessing tangible evidence of their daughters’ learning and growth, making them more willing to invest in their education by paying school fees, purchasing books, and providing other academic necessities. This holistic approach is not only empowering young girls but also fostering a more supportive environment for their education and personal growth.