Over the past 8 years, 60 million girlshas invested $1.9 million to support 17 projects in 13 countries, helping over 10,000 children, most of whom are girls. We are proud of these accomplishments, but our greatest achievement, I believe, is the knowledge we have gained during this period. What we have learned:
- The vital importance of great partners. Through their many experiences in the field of girls’ education, our partners have been a tremendous source of information and expertise to us. It is through these strong, committed, open and transparent relationships that we have learned what works best, and when and how to proceed. Each partner is unique in approach and expertise and we have the advantage of seeing the issues from many varied perspectives. We are learning from the best practices of the top supporters of girls’ education in the world!
- Networking. We are constantly talking, meeting and, most importantly, listening to a great variety of people from different areas of expertise in development. Whether it is the economics of poverty, issues and challenges in literacy and numeracy, governance concerns, accountability, health, empowerment – each area of study brings with it new perspectives on what makes an effective program.
- Think outside the box. Why in the world are Maasai warriors carrying cell phones??? Mobile technology has transformed communication in developing countries in ways that were unimaginable, even 10 years ago. It is amazing that these countries were able to skip a whole generation of technology and jump past landlines directly to cell phones! Can we rethink education in rural areas in the same way? The world has changed. Does education still have to be traditional in approach? Can we do it better?
- Networking.Did I mention this already? Since the work of the foundation is constantly on our mind, we end up discussing education issues with everyone we meet from IT specialists, neuroscientists, entrepreneurs, teachers, economists, artists, engineers and designers, who all bring a fresh perspective and a wealth of problem-solving skills.
Our accumulated knowledge and small flexible structure enable us to leverage what we do best into innovative approaches. If you were at our conference in October, you may remember that I spoke about some USB keys that were on their way to Sierra Leone that very night. They were part of Phase 1 of a low-cost pilot project we developed with our partner, CAUSE Canada, called “self-directed computer-based learning in a rural environment”. We were able to reach our very modest initial goals and implement the use of a math tutorial program called KA Lite for 60 high school girls in Kabala. We are now in the process of defining Phase 2, which will reach hundreds of students over several months, and measuring its impact on their National Exam results. This will give us more insight into delivery methods for self-directed learning. All absolutely exciting stuff to help support academic achievement with new low-cost, user-friendly technical solutions!
Only with you, can we continue to support our next project campaigns for 2014!! We will continue the second year of our two-year commitment of $300,000 to Free The Children’s girls’ high school in Oleleshwa, Kenya. This fabulous project is the continuation of our earlier investment of the construction of the Oloosiyioi primary school in the Maasai Mara. The young graduating girls, in particular, had very limited opportunities to continue their education in high school. Oleleshwa provides a superb environment for these intelligent and determined girls to fulfill their full potential in this well-equipped and innovative school.