Our scholarships provide a girl with everything she needs for school. Books, bag, uniform, school fees, shoes – you name it!
But we don’t stop there. Day-to-day realities mean challenges are bound to come up. So we make sure we’re there to support girls any way we can – all the way through to their graduation.
In 2018, we had an independent evaluator take a good, hard look at our Scholarships program to analyse just how impactful it really is. Not to too our own horn, but the findings from this evaluation are pretty incredible!
WHAT PREVENTS A GIRL FROM GOING TO SCHOOL?
SOLD INTO MARRIAGE
In Sierra Leone, 44% of girls are forced into marriage before they turn 18. We’ve met girls as young as 11 who’ve been engaged to men old enough to be their father. We’re not sure what you were doing when you were in grade 5, but getting sold and pregnant before you turn 12 probably wasn’t on the agenda.
Teenage pregnancy is one of the most common reasons for dropping out of school. Some girls may have unprotected sex, others are sexually assaulted, and girls are forced to sell themselves in exchange for food and money. It’s their only means of survival.
More than 70% of people in Sierra Leone earn less than $2 a day. Often it’s difficult to get enough money together to cover food and rent, let alone something as extravagant as school. If a family can afford to send a child to school, the chosen child is almost always a boy.
BUT EDUCATION CHANGES EVERYTHING.
3 WAYS OUR SCHOLARSHIPS SUPPORT GIRLS
RESPONDING TO NEEDS
All sorts of challenges impact our scholarship girls’ education. On our last trip to Sierra Leone, for example, we discovered many girls didn’t have enough to eat – and that was making it hard to concentrate. So we created a Lunch Fund so they could buy food from small food stalls run by women in the local community.
REGULARLY CHECK IN
No matter how excited girls are to go back to school, it can be tricky to readjust, particularly after many of them have been out of school for years. Many girls also have a challenging home life. That’s why we check-in with them regularly. If a problem arises, we work with school, community and family to provide whatever support they need.
START TO FINISH
Once a girl becomes a One Girl scholar we support her right up until she graduates. For some girls that means they are with us from primary school all the way through to completion of senior school.
WHERE DID YOU GIVE OUT YOUR SCHOLARSHIPS?
We’re currently working in 45 partner schools, across 69 communities in both Sierra Leone and Uganda.
We work in both the rural and urban areas, and find that girls are facing different challenges depending on where they grow up.
In the rural areas, we discover more situations where a girl is pulled out of school for early marriage – whereas in the urban areas, we worry more about girls selling themselves in order to earn money to survive.
Either way, no matter where the scholarships are given, one thing is certain.
Education changes everything.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A GIRL LEAVES SCHOOL?
Becoming a One Girl scholar changes a girl’s life. But all around her the poverty and disadvantage continue. Once she’s finished school, she needs all the breaks she can get.
So we launched an Alumni Program.
It’s in pilot stage at the moment, but the plan is that Graduates can continue their education through vocational training, computer classes, volunteer opportunities, and even a University Scholarship! They’ll also get to build a network where they can share experiences and support each other. And that can be incredibly powerful.
Watch this space!