Girls' Education Challenge is a program being implemented by MYDEL in partnership with Children at Risk Action Network (CRANE) with funding from UKAID targeting marginalised girls between the age of 9 and 17 who have never been to school and those who dropped out before completing the education cycle due to different reasons. The program employs two professional teachers who do the teaching at the Creative Learning Centre and 2 family mentors who are involved in family empowerment and mentorship.
The program started with a pilot study where 7 marginalized girls got enrolled into the program from October – February 2013. Out of the 7 girls enrolled, 5 managed to get back to school and up to now they are still in school while the two failed as one of the parent failed to raise money and the other girl was a house maid so her boss could not accept to take her back to school.
After the pilot project, 20 marginalized girls were enrolled at the centre for first term 2014 from February- May, with moral support and encouragement from the mentors together with the efforts of the teachers, 4 girls got re integrated into mainstream schools and 4 went for vocational skills training in tailoring and hair dressing while the rest of the girls were given more 3 months at the centre so that their parents could prepare for their re integration another term.
More girls were recruited for term two on top of those who failed to get back to mainstream, and they were also taken through the student- teacher friendly learning system. They learnt literacy, numeracy and other skills like making bangles and bracelets among others. This time 4 girls got back to school for third term and it being the last term of the year, many parents feared taking back their children to school because they had missed a lot and thought they could not manage to catch up in only one term to get promoted.
Therefore in term three, we continued with the previous girls plus some new ones, these have been studying all together we had 20 girls in term three of 2014. As a way of empowering the families of the girls economically, we came up with an association bringing parents of the girls together so that their standards of living are uplifted and are able to take back their children to school but most importantly keep them in school until when they complete a certain education cycle.
With this association, parents have been trained how to make paper bags which are used in packing different items like snacks among others as a way of getting money. The parents also managed to combine efforts with parents of Kampala Baptist Church to form an association offering catering services on different occasions. Through this, they got the opportunity of cooking food for over 300 children during the music festival, reading and writing competitions organized by CRANE VIVA share of the money got from these activities is saved and at the beginning of 2015 in February 15 girls managed to get back to school all because of the money they saved.
Apart from the income generating activities, parents in the association are also able to save weekly and borrow money to boost their businesses all aimed at re integrating the girls. With this we want the families to have a saving culture regardless of their incomes. Some families had lost hope and we feel they can be encouraged by their fellows in the association to regain that hope and improve their lives.
During the period of 6 months of the girls’ stay at the centre, they get equipped with the skill of making candles so that they could use that skill to support their parents who always struggle to make ends meet. Apart from learning, the girls also get a chance of engaging in games and sports like net ball, football, and athletics among others. The girls are also encouraged to be confident and believe in themselves, this is done through giving them a chance to express themselves in debate, quiz, music, dance and drama.
In 2016 we have managed to integrate 83 young girls back to school, 44 girls from the slums of Kampala attended tailoring classes and MYDEL organization provided counseling and guidance to more than 150 young girls in the community.