After I got back to the US from volunteering with the Peace Corps for three years in a small village in rural Mozambique, I decided to start Kurandza. We’re a non-profit social enterprise that helps girls get access to education, and helps women become entrepreneurs, with the goal of empowering the next generation of female leaders. Seeing firsthand how education can change the entire trajectory of a girl’s life, and the ripple effect it creates that impacts the entire community and generations for years to come, I chose to focus on girls education as the core of our organization.
In developing countries, especially in sub-saharan Africa, education for girls is often a far away dream.
Over 264 million children are currently not enrolled in school and according to UNESCO; this statistic includes 31 million girls of primary school age. As their age increases, so does the number of girls not participating in formal schooling, with 34 million adolescent girls out of school worldwide.
According to the United Nations, more than half of these children that are not enrolled in school live in sub-Saharan Africa. There are many reasons for the lack of enrollment in school – the nearest school might be too far to walk and the child’s parents can’t afford to pay for transportation. Some families need their children to start working jobs at a young age to support the household. School fees may be too high, mandatory uniforms too expensive, or a parent cannot afford school books and supplies. For many families, sending children (especially girls) to school is just not the norm.
Even when students are able to attend school, quality education is another major issue. Where we work in southeastern Africa, many public schools only provide morning or evening classes for just 3-4 hours to their students each day. This is because of a lack of financial resources and a shortage of adequately trained teachers. These schools are also in need of appropriate teaching materials, more classrooms, and often water and electricity access. The scarcity of resources in these schools result in a lack of basic reading and math skills for the enrolled children.
Providing quality education to the world’s most developing areas creates the biggest amplified impact of any other social initiative.
Education has the power to break the cycle of poverty, unemployment, and disease, not to mention it transforms lives and empowers entire communities. When a girl gets an education, she’s much more likely to get her vaccines, avoid HIV contraction, have access to jobs, earn a higher income, and escape child marriage. When she gets an education, she’s able to dream. She’s able to think of tomorrow instead of always living just for today.
Major progress in education has been made in the past decade and enrollment especially for women and girls has improved, but investment in educational scholarships, teacher training workshops, school construction, and the provision of school supplies and didactic materials is still a major concern. We have a long way to go to make quality education available (especially to children of impoverished families)!
Knowing that basic educational necessities like school fees, supplies, and transportation to and from school could change the entire trajectory of a girl’s life (and in turn impact entire families and communities), and seeing that US dollars go a very long way in Mozambique, Kurandza chooses to invest in education initiatives for these girls. We provide educational scholarships including school fees and tuition, uniforms, school supplies, backpacks, and transportation to the most vulnerable girls who are lacking quality educational opportunities in three different villages in southern Mozambique. We currently have 200 girls (and five boys) enrolled in our five different partner schools. We also provide holistic education to these children by hiring local Mozambican staff to teach health education and empowerment workshops, while also offering after-school tutoring and access to extracurricular activities.
These initiatives wouldn’t be possible without our annual #IStandForGirls Campaign that raises awareness about girls’ education and fundraises for their educational scholarships. The campaign does this by asking participants to take a photo of themselves holding a paper that says “#IStandForGirls” on it, and then post on social media and share why girls’ education is important to them.
The campaign rallies together a community of individuals who want to make a difference and use their voices to raise awareness about the issue of education, and what we can do to solve it.
#IStandForGirls harnesses the power of social media to give individuals an opportunity to join a community of world changers and use their personal influence for good. We launched the first campaign in 2017 and raised educational scholarships for over 100 girls in Mozambique. During last year’s campaign, we doubled our impact, raising scholarships for 205 children. Now equipped with proper school supplies and transportation, these students have been thriving in their schools – attendance has increased and there have been no drop-outs thus far.
These girls are able to thrive and dream for the future.
Making an impact and providing an education to girls is something each one of us can help with, and I’m honored that Yellow Co. is a part of this year’s #IStandForGirls campaign. Yellow has joined in the movement with a goal of getting the Yellow community to support 10 (or more) girls! If you would like to join the cause and help bring education to girls in eastern Africa, we are currently inviting the community to join our #IStandForGirls launch team! Starting September 1st and throughout the entire month, Kurandza will be asking participants to spread the word via social media by posting a photo of themselves holding a sign with the #IStandForGirls hashtag and explaining why they personally think girls education is important to reinforce the message that education matters for ALL GIRLS! Join the launch team here.
Photos courtesy of Kurandza