How can you support girls’ education even in challenging environments? Target barriers and drivers of education from multiple angles and be flexible!
Girls in Somalia are better at math now than they were in 2013. Why? Because CARE was paying attention to our data systems, and was able to quickly adjust our project to fill in gaps in the program.
From 2013 to 2017 CARE implemented the Somali Girls Education Promotion Project, part of the Department for International Development’s Girl’s Education Challenge. Focused on improving educational outcomes the project reached more than 18,000 girls to raise the quality of educational provision as well as educational outcomes.
What did we accomplish?
- Changed community attitudes to enrollment: In a major shift in practices, community members started tracking girls who are out of school and supporting them to enroll. In just the first three years of the project we increased girls’ enrollment by 30%.
- Increased community knowledge and support of education: At endline 54% of caregivers knew where the nearest secondary school was compared to 23% at baseline. Religious leaders, too, were openly engaged in supporting girls’ enrollment in formal education
- Better literacy and reading results: Learners experienced significant improvements in literacy scores which rose by 13.5 percentage points (55.7% to 69.2%) and reading scores which saw a 19 percentage point improvement (37% to 56%).
- Improved numeracy outcomes: Despite challenges faced in improving numeracy outcomes, with some adaptations to the projects including additional support for teachers through a ‘numeracy boost’ intervention learners results improved in both in addition (from 53% to 70%) and in subtraction (44% to 56%).
How did we get there?
- Work with different stakeholders! Educational outcomes are a product of many complex and interacting issues and these can’t be tackled in isolation. The SOMGEP project worked with:
- Learners to increase participation in education and foster girls’ leadership skills.
- Schools to ensure supportive school practices, adequate content delivery and conditions for girls.
- Communities and religious leaders to support positive shifts in gender and social norms.
- Ministries of Education are helping teachers and schools build the skills they need to deliver quality and relevant education.
- Monitor change closely: The SOMGEP project employed a robust M&E framework and monitored outcomes to ensure that progress was being made even despite issues of drought and conflict which made implementation complex.
- Adapt quickly: During the project, it was found that numeracy gains among target groups were slower than expected, particularly when compared to improvements in literacy. Looking at data from across the project revealed gaps in teacher knowledge. This information allowed CARE to formulate a plan to improve numeracy outcomes in the latter stages of the project by developing a ‘numeracy boost’ intervention targeted at teachers. The plan was effective and numeracy gains were accelerated in the last year of the project.
Where do we go next?
Following on from the SOMGEP project CARE is now continuing its work to improve high quality education in the second phase of the project SOMGEP-Transition which will run until 2021.
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