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2020 – Liberia

Girls Accelerated Learning Initiative in Liberia

Partner: CODE

Background

Due in part to the civil war legacy of disrupted school enrolment, and the more recent Ebola crisis, the challenge of over-age girls in early grades is particularly acute in Liberia. Without academic support and encouragement, these girls are at a high risk of dropping out of school and missing the opportunity to become literate, empowered and educated women.

CODE’s assessments conducted in 2016 showed that 66% of children, no matter their grade, were reading at a pre-primary level. The majority of these children were girls. The primary completion rate in Liberia is only 34%, but for poor girls in rural areas it’s a dispiriting 14%. Pregnancy remains the number one reason why girls drop out, though there are many other cultural and poverty-related challenges that make it exceedingly difficult for girls to succeed in school.

Project objectives

This project will provide after-school academic and life skills programming for 375 over-age girls in the counties of Bomi, Margibi and Montserrado. This programming will be delivered by 75 trained teachers equipped with high-quality, gender-responsive books and digital learning materials.

This project will build on the Girls Accelerated Learning Initiative (GALI) program, funded by 60 million girls in 2018-2019 and will be implemented in the same 25 schools. Once again, it will target 375 girls, most of whom will be new to the program, though some may remain in order to advance into upper primary. These over-age girls are presently enrolled significantly below their age-appropriate grade and are, in most cases, at a pre-primary reading level. They are typically 12-15 years old (grades 1-3), and are at high risk of dropping out, facing early marriage and pregnancy, and remaining illiterate and impoverished.

This project’s multi-faceted approach to empowering girls is particularly innovative. Ten of the GALI school programs will benefit from Mobile Learning Labs (MLLs) that will offer rich and varied content on both academic and life skills. Moreover, externally commissioned research will explore the impacts of digital learning on the participating girls.

Teachers will not only be sensitized to gender issues and provided with custom learning materials. They will also participate in intensive workshops designed to enhance their instructional skills and pedagogical approaches. Enhanced engagement with parents, as well as snacks and sanitary pads, will further reduce barriers to consistent school and program attendance.

In the medium term, CODE expects to replicate the success of GALI, in which 22% of the girls were promoted one grade level and 75% were promoted two grade levels. We also expect that girls will demonstrate greater knowledge of sexual health, which better equips them to make healthy decisions. In the long term, we expect to see participants complete primary school and transition to junior and secondary school and avoid early marriage and pregnancy. Ultimately, remaining in school has economic and social benefits for the girls and the effects carry from one generation to the next: educated girls have fewer, healthier and better-educated children.

Why partner with CODE?

60 million girls worked with CODE on the GALI project in Liberia with very impressive results as noted above. Both CODE and the 60 million girls Foundation share the same core values and vision. CODE has been inspired by the use of the content-rich MLLs to connect low-resource schools with a world of digital content. It believes that MLLs have an important role to play in future CODE programming for both the GALI project and beyond. It will be a great opportunity to further study, share and contribute to the impact of the Mobile Learning Lab.