A new honour for our team…
We are proud to announce that Wanda Bedard, founder and president of 60 million girls, has been named a recipient of the prestigious Meritorious Service Cross by Her Excellency the Right Honourable Mary Simon, Governor General of Canada.
The Meritorious Service Decorations recognize great Canadians for exceptional deeds accomplished over a limited period of time that bring honour to Canada. Wanda will receive this decoration in recognition of her ceaseless work in support of education for girls in developing countries and the many accomplishments achieved by 60 million girls – notably the development of our Mobile Learning Lab model – to bring e-learning to some of the most isolated communities and vulnerable children around the world.
I am honoured to receive this recognition and decoration for the work 60 million girls has accomplished over the past 15 years. It is, of course, only possible to have an impact on girls’ education when working with a great network of collaborators. I also have the privilege of being part of an outstanding team of dedicated, determined and passionate volunteers who bring their varied perspectives and talents to help create new approaches to the huge challenge of ensuring all girls have access to a quality education. – Wanda Bedard
Success stories from Sierra Leone
60 million girls knows that the pandemic has forced the closure of schools around the world, disrupting the lives up millions of children and youth over the past two years. Adolescent girls in developing countries have been disproportionally impacted by COVID-19 and many will never return to the classroom. Our Adolescent Girls’ Education Fund was created last year to address this pressing issue.
Our partner, CAUSE Canada, was the recipient of one of our 2021 grants. This project, titled We Day Kam Back (We Go Back), specifically targeted out-of-school girls, aged 12-16 years, who would participate in 30 accelerated learning centres located in the rural communities of Koinadugu and Falaba of northern Sierra Leone. The goal of the project is to offer quality accelerated learning opportunities so that the students can reintegrate to school with the necessary knowledge and confidence to stay in school and succeed. Our Mobile Learning Lab is a key component of the project as it offers high-quality learning and health resources.
The project, implemented at the beginning of Sierra Leone’s school year in August, was well received by the communities, with additional support from the Mothers’ Clubs. Girls were given school supplies and are supported by qualified tutors in a friendly environment. Indeed, though its original target was 640 girls, the demand was so great that there are now 820 students attending classes in all 30 communities 5 days a week.
After only six months, the project has already met with great success. 102 girls have already returned to the classroom though they continue to participate in the accelerated learning centres. Others have said how grateful they are that this initiative was offered to them. This is what some of them have to say:
Fatma, a 17-year-old student, dropped out of school to work on the farm because of a lack of funds when her father died three years ago. On learning of the program, Fatma was able to join and resume her education. Today, she says she is one of the happiest girls as she continues to study and fulfil her dream of becoming a doctor.
Mariama, another 17-year-old student, lost her father when she was in primary school. Like Fatma, the situation became difficult and Mariama left school to help her mother. Unfortunately, she became pregnant, though she lost the baby, and dropped out of school entirely for two years. The program is giving her a second chance to achieve her dreams.
Victoria is a 15-year-old orphan and has been living with her older sister, who dropped out of school to take care of her. However, her sister could no longer afford to both feed and send Victoria to school so she too had to drop out. She has made such excellent progress that she has been able to return to the main school to fulfil her dream of becoming a doctor.
Finah is a 15-year-old student who lost her mother at the age of 10 and, two years later, her father. Her stepmother would not support her in school and Finah married. She had a baby but, sadly, her husband died just a year later. She was encouraged by her aunt and CAUSE Canada to return to school and enrolled in the program. She now has hope that she can become a lawyer.
There is no doubt that this project is meeting its goal of helping out-of-school adolescent girls return to the classroom so that they can fulfil their dreams of a brighter future. We wish them every success.
Maasai girls graduate in Tanzania with the MLL’s help
In 2017, we partnered with the Stephen Lewis Foundation and its field partner, Maasai Women Development Organization (MWEDO), in the remote Tanzanian community of Arusha. Our grant of $100,000 helped provide quality education, as well as financial support for school fees, meals, supplies, books, uniforms, lodging and food for one year to 100 Maasai girls in their first year of secondary school.
Ndinini Kimesera Sikar, co-founder of MWEDO, was our keynote speaker at our fall conference that year. Much to her delight, at the end of the evening she received a small suitcase filled with thirty tablets and a rechargeable server called a RACHEL-Plus – our Mobile Learning Lab. To our delight, MWEDO has been using the Mobile Learning Lab (MLL) ever since.
In November 2021, 80 girls sat for their National Form Four examinations to enable them to receive a Certificate of Secondary Education Examination. Ndinini wrote to say that the results came out last month and all the girls had passed. This is, in part, Ndinini’s comments:
My belief is that the girls worked very hard and with the support of our Mobile Learning lab, their performance increased so much more.
MWEDO mobile learning lab has been working well for the MWEDO secondary school. We use our MLL on a daily basis; our students and teachers are very happy about this program and have downloaded the Tanzania National curriculum, exams and passed papers for review by all students and teachers. The World Possible team have also supported us to upgrade the program and we now have access to more educational sites.
In the last two years we noticed increased performance in our students for English, Math and Science subjects such as chemistry and biology. The reasons behind this performance is due to girls’ exposure to different learning sites and interesting readings available within the RACHEL Server.
The MWEDO National Form Four results of this year have proved that MLL can seriously improve learning outcomes for our students.
We couldn’t be more pleased to hear that the Mobile Learning Lab has been so effective in helping the MWEDO students be successful in their studies and we extend our congratulations to them.