Top women-led organizations, including Helping Our People Excel (HOPE), CareFound Liberia, and Paramount Young Women’s Initiative (PAYOWI) have craved for an improved girls’ education and more enrollment across the country.
The three top civil society organizations formed a partnership for an advocacy campaign titled: “Educate Her” which aim at promoting gender equity and equality in education for girls.
The goal is to contribute to the effective implementation of the National Policy on girls’ education (NPGE) with a specific focus on the areas that address the key barriers to girls’ attendance, retention, and completion (GARC) in secondary schools.
The Paramount Young Women’s Initiative (PAYOWI) Program officer, Hawa C. Wilson, at a one-day Girls’ Education Summit held Tuesday, June 21, 2022, at the Ministerial Complex in Congo Town said the campaign seeks to build a coalition that will advocate for the effective implementation of policies that advance girls education in Liberia.
Ms. Wilson said the “Educate Her” coalition builds strategic partnerships with government line ministries, civil society organizations, donors, women-led rights groups, autonomous social movements, and media institutions to align their technical resources to invest in the capacity of education stakeholders.
She added that the coalition will work with educational stakeholders to ensure the implementation of the national policy on girls’ education, which is important for Liberia’s education.
“The coalition came into force after a look at some of the challenges and obstacles that young women and girls faced while seeking to acquire secondary education and how to work with stakeholders to address them,” Ms. Wilson said.
The Executive Director of Helping Our People Excel (HOPE), Aisha Cooper Bruce, said the county action plan outlines key priority action steps that will be taken to support the girls’ education at the county and community level.
Mrs. Bruce said during engagement with educational stakeholders at all levels, key issues include early marriage or parenthood, sexual harassment or abuse, male teachers in pregnant students, cultural and religious practices, and overburden with early responsibilities as well breadwinner.
Mrs. Bruce said the campaign which is a three years program is expected to improve programs for policy implementation and increased penalization for child labor and transactional sex that continued to lead to poor girls’ retention and others in schools.
Mrs. Bruce said there’s a need for all stakeholders to work together and network to endure that more is done to achieve girls’ retention in schools.
She said there is a need for increased financing of girls’ education because it is not just the ideas or training provided, money is needed to have the work done.
“We need to increase our coordination and capacity around girls’ education and the main focus is a national policy on girls’ education and we want to ensure that this new one is implemented well,” she said.
The president of the National Teachers Association of Liberia, (NTAL) Mary M. W. Nyumah calls for creating more awareness about the teacher code of conduct which will help to make teachers understand what the code of conduct says about teacher and student relationships.
“Some of our teachers have not seen the code of conduct and therefore are not aware of what will happen to them if they get into relationships with female students. A teacher needs to have a copy and also understand the girls’ education campaign. With this, they will know that if they go wrong, something is available to punish them,” Mrs. Nyumah said.
According to her, stakeholders have sat around the table for too long and written many policies but implementation has been the problem, stating “we don’t have the funding.”
In November 2021, 150 school administrators at the secondary level and education officers in the 15 counties were trained to expand the participants’ understanding of NPGE and other policy instruments that support girls’ education and develop country-level strategies.