Getting Girls Back Into School in Cameroon

November 18, 2013

This post originally appeared on the Women Thrive Worldwide blog site on 23 October 2013.

By Lucy Glaser

Every year, the world joins together to celebrate the International Day of the Girl on October, 11th. This year, the theme is Innovations in Girls’ Education. Many of our partners are creating, running, and expanding amazing projects on girls’ education and beyond. This series highlights just a few of these projects. You can find the full list here.

In Cameroon, too many girls are out of school.

In the Northern part of the country, 40 per cent of girls who start primary school drop out and fewer than 30 per cent of students then go on to attend secondary school.

© WomenThrive/2013 Girls empowered by IRCCA's programs show their support for education for all

Unlike boys, they’re given very few opportunities to further their studies. As a result many girls in local communities in Cameroon are illiterate.

Unfortunately, girls who are not in school are more likely to be exposed to sexual exploitation, trafficking, and unwanted pregnancies, which can harm their chances to lift themselves out of poverty and can having lasting negative effects on their health.

And studies have shown that girls generally perform better in school than boys, especially given the enormous challenges they go through. If they are given the opportunity and time they need to concentrate on school work, the benefits to their communities – and even countries – could be huge.

The problem is clear. So what are organizations in Cameroon doing to solve this pervasive problem?

The Integrated Rural Community Center for Agriculture (IRCCA) Foundation has been working on literacy, affordability, inclusion, and technology in communities in Cameroon. The IRCCA hopes to give girls the chance to learn, and in turn inspire other young girls to follow their path in the future.

The IRCCA has a lofty goal: 80 per cent of girls receive a primary education by 2018.

And their innovation is simple: Including parents in on important conversation about how education can transform the lives of their daughters and their communities. Educating parents about how keeping girls out of schools hurts both the girls and the family has been a key component in ensuring that girls can – and do – attend school.

In order to make schooling affordable, which is one of the greatest barriers for girls to attend school, scholarships are given to girls excelling in academics.

In addition, the IRCCA focuses on opportunities that matter most to the students. For example, they can study development issues, social sciences, or anything else they are interested in as a way to keep them engaged and to keep them coming back to the classroom.

With academic counseling the opportunity to do student exchanges, young girls are encouraged to participate in society and stay in school.

One unique way the IRCCA hopes to combat illiteracy is through establishing an audio-visual center that is free to all women and girls. This center will be connected to the Internet, so women and girls can access effective tools for learning.

While using computers and new online programs are unique ways that will engage girls and keep them in school, it’s also just plain smart. Computer literacy is an important component to learning, as these types of educational programs will make learning more accessible and less elite. Additionally, computer literacy can help their job prospects in the future.

While it is a challenge, the IRCCA believes in a better future for girls – free of violence, and filled with education and learning. And they’re working every day to make that future a reality.

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