Recently, BRAC International identified several barriers to girls' education in Sierra Leone, including: poverty, early pregnancies and child marriages, sexual abuse, orphanhood, disability, HIV, long distances from home to school, lack of functional latrines, lack of adequately qualified teachers, and lack of girl-friendly school environments.
In response to these challenges, BRAC International, in partnership with BRAC Sierra Leone, developed the Realizing Educational Potential for Marginalized Girls program. This initiative is a three-year project that aims to reach 37,155 at-risk girls who are out of school or likely to drop out of school. The program has worked closely with the Ministry of Education to develop its curriculum as well as recruit local resources, community leaders, and experts.
Its approach has four key dimensions:
- Education Delivery | BRAC will create 250 Community Girls Schools across twelve out of the fourteen districts of Sierra Leone. Students receive three years of education at an accelerated pace providing them with the knowledge and skills necessary to re-enter the government school system. The curriculum focuses on improving reading and comprehension abilities, but also incorporates lessons regarding sexual education, sexual harassment, HIV, and other social protections.
- Peer Mentorship | BRAC will select and train 7,500 student mentors from government and government-assisted schools. Each mentor leads a of group of 8 to 10 girls and supports them in activities ranging from improving learning outcomes and increasing attendance, to building students' confidence and empowering them in their everyday lives.
- Teacher Training | BRAC will select and train 1,200 government primary and lower secondary teachers on basic as well as specific subject-based teaching methodologies.
- Community Mobilization | This program will establish a School Management Committee (SMC) to mobilize community leaders, local government, and parents in support of girls' education. These stakeholders are required to attend at least 70% of all SMC meetings. In addition to these meetings, the program will facilitate a variety of forums and workshops (that include boys) to ensure that the entire community is engaged in stimulating dialogue on girls' education.