Allowing Secondary Education for Girls in Sierra Leone

Project location: SIERRA LEONE
Project start date: July 2017 - Project end date: December 2019
Project number: 2017-042
Beneficiary: Street Child Of Sierra Leone

In Sierra Leone there is an alarming fact facing vulnerable young girls looking for a fair start in life: they don’t have the opportunity to attend school and/or prioritise education. Girls have significantly lower learning outcomes than boys at all levels with the literacy rate at 54% and 37% for females for 15-24 year old's compared to 72% for males. Girls are also more likely to drop out of school at the vital stage of transition to secondary school. The gender educational gap is a generational issue and poses a problem due to overwhelming number of barriers to education impacting girls, including teenage pregnancy. Dropping out of school occurs the most between the end of primary school and the start of secondary. It is crucial that any intervention focused on this transition to be successful.

The goal of this project, which received a grant from the Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation, is to create adequate conditions within families, communities and schools, in order for girls to gain a quality education in a "girl friendly" environment. Also we will contribute to raising awareness about the importance of gender equality in education. The project will target school-age girls in urban areas whose physical or socio-economical condition hinder or threaten their access to education and the successful completion of school. Experienced social workers and business officers will provide monitoring and business support, in conjunction with a grant to allow families to become economically self-sufficient.

Social workers will work with the families of 20 teenage mothers, providing business grants to ensure that the child returns to school. They will identify 70 primary school-age and 70 secondary school-age girls currently out of school or at risk of dropping out. The project is will start at the beginning of the 2017 school year. Beneficiary selection and school enrolment will be in August/September. A final assessment of girls retained in education will be conducted at the end of the academic year. Street Child aims to bridge the educational gap by reducing the barriers that lead to girls dropping out of education. Interventions such as family business grants and tailored counselling will target these barriers and give the vulnerable girls the best change to gain a quality education.

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