AGSP/Liberia At a Glance:
This year, no new scholars were selected in Liberia so as to focus on achieving desired outcomes and responsibly completing the remaining two years of the program only current scholars.
In previous years, however, scholars were selected through a transparent process which increased accountability and inclusiveness. The girls — and starting in 2007, the boys as well — were chosen by selection committees which included representatives from the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Gender and Development, UNICEF, USAID, the NGO partners, community leaders, women leaders, religious leaders, teachers, and health workers. Before the selections were made, announcements and advertisements went out to the communities about the scholarship program and parents/guardians and girls were encouraged to apply to the selection committees. Interviews and screening of applicants were then conducted and candidates selected.
Table 1 AGSP Scholars in Liberia Year Six
Table 2. AGSP Scholarship Distribution in Liberia
The scholarships include books, notebooks, pencils, pens, school fees, uniforms, rain coats and shoes. This year a donation of sanitary napkins was added, courtesy of Procter & Gamble. The girls were also given special sessions on the usage and disposal of the sanitary napkins by NGO partners and community health workers. Distribution of scholarships amongst the various NGO partners for this academic year is indicated in the table below.
In Year 6, CAP administered scholarships to 301 girls and 259 boys and DEN-L to 405 girls and 268 boys for a total of 1,233 scholarships in Liberia.
There are currently 21 mentors in Liberia. Mentors are recruited by our NGO partners to serve as volunteers in the program. These are mainly women who are social workers, religious leaders, project officers with international organizations, lawyers, nurses, lecturers, city leaders, etc.
The mentoring component of AGSP includes health education and social and human rights education, including gender issues, leadership, and career development. The mentors actively monitor the girls’ and boys’ academic work, organize home visits, and assist in the organization and supervision of study groups both at the school and in the scholars’ homes. Mentoring programs are underway at the community level and several discussions have been held on HIV/&AIDS and STI awareness, adolescent reproductive health, personal hygiene, and teenage pregnancy. The mentors also regularly hold meetings with parents—especially mothers of scholars— to discuss issues affecting the children and how they can work together to deal with such issues.
The NGOs have had success in forming health clubs at the schools. Through the health clubs, students gain confidence and self-esteem. This encourages them to take their education more seriously and directs them towards a career that will give them a meaningful role in their community. Through the health clubs, students discuss a range of issues, from adolescent reproductive health to personal hygiene. A mentor facilitates the discussion, but by active participation, role plays and problem solving, boys and girls are learning important information about themselves. The USAID Mentoring Resource Guide has encouraged the NGOs to do more training of trainers for existing and new mentors. In March-April 2009, all NGOs received training on how to use the Guide and facilitate the training of trainers.
With the support from school administrators, partner NGOs meet with Parent Teacher Associations to inform them about the status of the program and challenge them to increase their efforts in exploring possible ways to sustain the scholarship program.
Community monitors are also enlisted by the NGOs. These monitors help follow up with the scholars, and visit the schools to monitor academic attendance and performance, as well as the relationship between scholars and teachers. The community monitors also make home visits. Through the support of the community monitors, students who were continuously arriving late at school due to their household workload are now able to get to school on time. This is the result of productive conversations between community monitors and parents. The monitors are increasing the communities’ involvement in the program.
Ambassabors' Girls' Scholarship Program (AGSP) is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development