AGSP/The Gambia At a Glance:
2.The Foundation for Research on Women’s Health Productivity and the Environment (BAFROW)
In Year 6, a total of 200 scholarships were awarded (114 girls, 86 boys). This year, no new scholars were selected so as to focus on achieving desired outcomes and responsibly completing the remaining two years of the program with only current scholars.
In the Gambia, AGSP scholars who were junior secondary students have all moved on to senior high school this academic year. As no new scholars were to be selected this year, FAWE-GAM was allowed to continue with the 200 of the brightest scholars and support them in senior high school as well. To date, 3,622 scholarships have been awarded to 3,211 girls and 411 boys in 15 schools in the Gambia. The scholarships are comprised of books, notebooks, school fees, mosquito nets, uniforms, shoes, badges and bags. Distribution of scholarships amongst the various NGO partners for this academic year is indicated in the table below.
Table 1 AGSP Scholars in The Gambia Year Six
There is a high level of community participation in the AGSP/Gambia with parent teacher association (PTAs), school management committees (SMCs), and mothers’ clubs actively engaged in all aspects of the program. Mothers’ clubs work with mentors to monitor student progress, attendance in school, and support other students with additional scholarships from their income-generating activities. The community has continued to be supportive of the scholars by reducing their house work load to allow them to study for their exams, and parents have helped to supervise the study groups.
FAWEGAM continues to actively recruit mentors to provide support to the AGSP scholars. Currently, most of these mentors are teachers who provide extra tutoring for the girls and boys and assist them in their school work. Mentoring activities in the Gambia also help to build the scholars’ self-esteem and confidence, cater to their health and development needs, and provide them with important life skills.
The Mentoring Guide from USAID was made available to all of the NGOs during Year 6. FAWE-GAM has begun training their mentors on the Guide, and the mentors, in turn are using the Guide to assist them in mentoring the scholars.
Table 2. AGSP Scholarship Distribution in The Gambia
World Education has partnered with following two local organizations in the Gambia to help provide scholarships, find and train mentors, and oversee the program. World Education also conducts capacity building activities with each NGO to strengthen their skills.
Forming partnerships for programs is one way to ensure that resources are leveraged for the most optimum use. In the Gambia, World Education’s partner is the Forum for African Women Educationalists Gambia Branch (FAWEGAM) which was founded in 1997 and has over one hundred members. The organization is involved in activities to enhance women’s and girls’ education throughout the country and in collaboration with communities, has established mothers’ clubs which help to support girls’ education in disadvantaged areas. In starting up AGSP/Gambia, FAWEGAM identified two key partners, each with their own strengths, to leverage additional resources and boost the AGSP/Gambia’s mentoring program. FAWEGAM signed a Memorandum of Agreement with Education for All Network (EFANET) and the Foundation for Research on Women’s Health Productivity and the Environment (BAFROW), two leading NGOs in the Gambia, to implement various aspects of the mentoring program.
Established about 17 years ago, BAFROW is an influential, local women’s NGO that caters to the welfare and development of the Gambians, especially women and children and uses a holistic, community-based approach in the promotion of healthy behavior and the fight against HIV & AIDS. The organization is in charge of all the health-related aspects of mentoring activities. Over the implementation period, BAFROW has carried out several activities such as a knowledge, attitudes and practice (KAP) survey, medical examinations, health education talks in schools, excursions for scholars to visit the Save Our Soul orphan village, publish the AGSP newsletter and organize HIV awareness programs for students and their parents.
The Gambia Education for All Campaign Network, (EFANET) is a network structure for promoting EFA goals and involving different actors across the country. It is experienced in coordinating the activities of civil society organizations (CSOs) at the national and community levels and conducting training activities for their members in advocacy and lobbying. In line with its mandate to ensure quality education for all, EFANET has been in charge of the academic component of AGSP Gambia’s mentoring program. Activities have included English remedial classes to improve the reading and writing skills of the students, examination orientation, study circles and increased community participation.
The three partners place significant emphasis on community involvement and work closely with community structures such as Mothers’ Clubs which were created to serve as an advocacy tool for girls’ education. The mothers are trained to advocate for enrolment and retention of girls as well as providing support to schools and the students by supervising and monitoring the education they receive. In the communities they have been very helpful in carrying out sensitisation and awareness activities, and intervening when there are incidents of early marriage, drop out, sexual harassment or teenage pregnancies.
Together, FAWEGAM, EFANET and BAFROW have joined forces to develop and implement innovative and quality mentoring activities for all the AGSP scholars, their schools and communities.
Ambassabors' Girls' Scholarship Program (AGSP) is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development