Supporting Girls’ Education

“First, [educating girls] modernises the country.

Second, so they won’t feel less important than boys.

Third, so they increase their self-confidence. But I cannot see the importance of their not going to school.”

– Helen, age 19, grade 12 – when asked why she thought girls’ education was important

Poverty in Ethiopia is widespread and The Kindu Trust has set out to help those in greatest need since the very beginning. While poverty is a condition that does not discriminate, it often has greater consequences for girls whose value may be rated differently to that of male siblings. Girls are expected to do housework that boys are not, taking up their homework time; girls are more likely to be affected by traditional practices such as child marriage, causing them to drop out of school early; and girls may even eat less as male family members are prioritised.

Ethiopia has made great strides over past decades to improve access to education for all. Today, as many girls attend primary school as boys. However, at secondary school age the numbers begin to shift; for every 100 boys at Secondary School, there are only 77 girls.

Our work to support girls’ education began in 2014 with our Girls Education Support Project. The project supported 44 girls from disadvantaged backgrounds, providing school materials, running education support classes in  English and IT and holding parallel sensitisation programs about the importance of education for girls with the girls and their parents.

Overall, 42% of the girls saw an improvement on last year in their average results at school, which takes into account all subjects. In English, a subject which this project focused on, an even greater improvement was seen; 62% of girls’ results in English improved on last year. On average these results improved by 22% with two of the girls on the project improving their grades by over 50%!

“When we take English classes in school we are usually nervous to participate but here we feel free. This help us develop our English skill better.” – Giziework, age 18, grade 11

Following feedback from the girls supported by this project, we wanted to do further research into different ways to support girls education. We wanted to build our understanding of the obstacles that girls and young women face in Secondary education and solutions that could help to overcome these problems.

In 2015, working with our partner charity, Link Ethiopia, we established a Women’s Steering Committee to discuss these issues, share their experience and propose solution. All the women involved in the committee were directly and/or personally involved with girls’ education, support and women’s empowerment. The Committee included our very own Sponsorship Manager, Link Ethiopia’s Regional Manager, the Director of a local Women’s Cooperative, Ploughshare, a student from Gondar University, a member of the district Women’s, Children and Youth Affairs office and the Women’s Officer of Gondar University.

The Women’s Steering Committee met to discuss both their experience as women who had completed higher education to various levels and as women who support girls and young women through education. Altogether, they have a wealth of knowledge about obstacles faced in a number of context. They then refined their ideas to consider a number of the challenges in-depth and devised project proposals of solutions to help girls overcome the challenges.

We now have 3 pilot projects that we will run to support girls education and to assess the best method of enabling them and their families to keep girls in school. We have started one pilot project which provides small business loans to the parents of girls at risk of dropping out of secondary school to alleviate the need to withdraw a girl from education so that she can contribute to the household income. We are seeking funding for two other pilot projects. If you would like to learn more about how to support these projects, you can contact us here.

As well as initiatives that directly support girls education, we recognise that it is important to build the confidence of girls’ and young women outside of the school setting too. We also saw that we had an opportunity to create equality within our own programmes! For a number of years The Kindu Trust has run a boys’ football team, they have grown to be a group of close friends and have won a number of local tournaments. We wanted to give the same opportunity to bond, develop sports and team skills and build networks to the girls that we support. In 2016 we set up our Girls’ Football Team. The team is still in it’s early stages but 20 girls aged 13-16 have been selected to be on the team and they have received full kit and new, hard wearing footballs. We are in the process of seeking funding for a professional football coach to train the team and to provide the girls with showers, soap, food and drink after every training session. You can support a 5-a-side football team for just £1,000 a year! If you would like to learn more about the project please contact us.

For more information about our Girls’ Support projects, check out our partner’s website: Link Ethiopia

In summer 2018 we launched another project aimed at helping women in the community who had been affected by child marriage and motherhood. The Lijinete Network Project provided and confidence building training, 15 women were empowered to identify issues and provide support to girls affected by similar issues in their community.

The project also provided business training and start-up loans to the 15 network members to enable them to be financially independent and support their own children. At the end of the project the network aims to provide help to over 400 girls in the community and will hold a community meeting with elders and relevant government offices in their area to raise awareness of issues girls are facing and advocate for solutions. You can read more about the project here.

“What happened in the past is past. I would like to change my life now and for my children to finish school and get a successful job.”

Lijinete Network Member