Press Release – July 6, 2017 — SAN FRANCISCO — Leading girls’ education charity Camfed today announced in its annual review that it is on track to deliver against its pledge of supporting one million marginalized girls in rural Africa through secondary school within five years.
“We made our pledge in late 2014,” says Camfed CEO Lucy Lake. “In 2016 we crossed the halfway mark. Camfed’s approach provides hope, and has become a reference point for what’s possible in the urgent drive to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals.”
Over the past two years, Camfed – which currently works in five countries in sub-Saharan Africa – has supported 542,079 girls at secondary school by building a base of local activists, which lies at the heart of Camfed’s model. The young women in its CAMA alumni network have become a powerful movement of rural philanthropists, who ‘plough back’ the benefits of their education into their communities. Each CAMA member, on average, supports two more girls to go to secondary school, evidencing the multiplier effect of girls’ education. Camfed’s annual review shows that this unique network now numbers 84,675 and will grow to 100,000 in 2017.
These remarkable milestones build on an unprecedented uplift in learning outcomes among the most marginalized girls in Tanzania and Zimbabwe, which Camfed has achieved through a multi-dimensional program supported by the UK government’s Girls’ Education Challenge. In addition to covering girls’ school-going costs and training teachers to deliver psychosocial support to vulnerable children, the program saw alumni return to schools as mentors, role models and ‘Learner Guides’, delivering a uniquely tailored study and life skills curriculum. The results showed that with the right kind of support, even the poorest and most disadvantaged students can make good progress through secondary school, and that supporting students’ self-development and life skills in tandem with a focus on the core curriculum raises their achievements, builds academic confidence, and cuts dropout rates. Marginalized girls in Tanzania, for example, improved their math exam results by 146%, while girls in comparison schools achieved only a 2% increase.
2016 also saw the first 567 Learner Guides achieve a tailored vocational (BTEC) qualification developed in partnership with Pearson to open up new pathways to teacher training and employment for young women after graduation.
In 2016 Camfed welcomed the Hon Julia Gillard, 27th Prime Minister of Australia and Chair of the Global Partnership for Education, as Patron, to support the strategic leadership of Camfed and CAMA. Camfed’s results have been widely recognized by education policy influencers, including the University of Cambridge’s Research on Equitable Access & Learning Center and the Brookings Institution, a US-based think tank whose research confirms girls’ education not only as key to global poverty eradication, but as the most effective intervention to mitigate climate change.
“The best way to tackle poverty, inequality, youth unemployment, overpopulation, instability, forced migration and climate change is the education of girls, and Camfed has the incontrovertible data to prove that securing girls’ right to education changes everything,” says Lucy Lake. “Our approach unlocks the transformative potential of girls’ education. The young women in CAMA now lead on program delivery and innovation, and galvanize community resources in support of more girls. But 28 million girls in sub-Saharan Africa remain out of school. The consequences of their exclusion can be seen in early pregnancy, child marriage, and the risks to physical and mental health that ensue. We hope that everyone who reads our annual review will join us. In these uncertain times, let’s invest in millions of girls and young women, who have the expertise to break the cycle of poverty, and rewrite all of our futures. Together we are an unstoppable human revolution.”
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