Introducing One Girl's first-ever digital wellbeing program, Girl Tok!
Girl Tok is our 2020 pilot program, which we created when Sierra Leone went into lockdown and closed all schools, as a result of COVID-19. Using smartphones, this program is aimed at the girls in our scholarship program, to help them develop skills in everything from digital literacy to mindfulness and body positivity.
With so much uncertainty around the world, we knew we had to work to stay focused on our mission — educating girls. But it’s not as easy as just logging online as the majority of the girls that we work with have little to no access to even basic technology like a phone, phone credit or even electricity. In September we launched our new program Girl Tok so girls have the tools they need to learn remotely and stay healthy, happy and safe during this time.
Check out the video clip below to hear from One Girl's inspiring Africa Regional Director, Yeniva, sharing an update on Girl Tok.
The Global Education Emergency
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to the biggest disruption to education that the world has ever seen. At its height, 9 out of 10 students in the world were out of school, and today 1.2 billion students are affected. More than 80% of them are in developing countries, where school closures are compounding an already urgent learning crisis.
When Ebola swept through Sierra Leone, teen pregnancy increased by 65%, there were more maternal and child deaths and a much higher rate of child marriage. This global pandemic will likely mean similar risks for young women and girls, and the effects will be felt for years — particularly in countries like Sierra Leone and Uganda where access to education, resources and services are already scarce.
At One Girl, we don't just send girls to school for a semester, or even year, we're in it for the long haul and we see each One Girl Scholar all the way through to her graduation. We're committed to these young women. And pandemic or no pandemic, we believe they deserve an education!
These unprecedented disruptions will have immediate consequences for children’s learning and their wellbeing. The brunt of the impacts, as with most crises, will be borne by those who are already most in need of education. The longer schools remain closed, the greater the damage will be. And the worst may be yet to come.
About the Program
Girl Tok is a pilot designed for remote learning and for keeping girls happy and healthy. Here's how it works:
- Girls have been invited into small online clubs which are hosted on WhatsApp and run by a young women mentor (previous One Girl scholars).
- They are currently completing activities, lessons and competitions, which provide learning, self-confidence and life-skills.
- They receive educational messages and resources on topics including: navigating the internet and staying safe online, mental and physical wellbeing, body autonomy and positivity.
- One Girl staff have been conducting wellness checks — phone calls geared to support the girls’ emotional and social needs (kinda like a friend giving you a quick call to check-in and see how you’re doing).
All the educational content is from the same amazing programs we're famous for and the girls are still in the driver's seat — but Girl Tok has made it available online so it's just the vehicle that's changed.
Girl Tok aims to help girls build connections with their peers and female mentors and make sure education is still part of their routines. The fallout from Covid-19 could trigger trauma or stress, so all of our field staff have been trained to provide the support needed to make sure girls have everything they need to navigate their way back to the classroom!
What happens when the schools open up again?
This program has been on the cards for a while, COVID-19 simply made it a priority. With Girl Tok now up and running, we can reach more girls in more remote regions and the girls can remain supported throughout their education.