Public Awareness Efforts
U.S. Ambassadors and USAID Missions
Former First Lady Laura Bush attends biology class with AGSP scholars at Maimata Secondary School in Abuja, Nigeria
In 2009 the theme of the well attended AGSP Final Conference, held in the Gambia and Burkina Faso, was ‘Understanding Outcomes of AGSP Partnerships’. The conference brought together our forty-one partners, U.S. ambassadors and their representatives from the Gambia and Burkina Faso, host country government officials and the D.C.-based USAID Africa Bureau COTR (Contracting Officer Technical Representative) for AGSP. Presentations made by various NGO partners and discussions highlighted the benefits of AGSP’s influence on community, recognizing the increase in community awareness and involvement in the education and well-being of youth across beneficiary communities. As the U.S. Ambassador to the Gambia, Mr. Barry Wells stated:
“In order to meet the challenges of development at their foundation, education is necessary, especially among girls…any investment in education is an investment in the future of the country.”
Opening Ceremony in Banjul, the Gambia: Ambassador Wells, Representatives from the MOE, FAWE-GAM, EFA Network, BAFROW, USAID/Washington and WEI
Mr. Kunkung, the Deputy Permanent Secretary from the Education Ministry in the Gambia also used the event to express his appreciation of the contribution that AGSP has made in supporting the Gambian government in carrying out its national education initiative. Ms. Sharon Nwankwo, then D.C.-based USAID Africa Bureau COTR for AGSP, highlighted AGSP’s success in increasing community interest and involvement in educating the girl child, improving life-skills, enhancing self-esteem, and increasing awareness of HIV/AIDS and other health issues.
Former First Lady Laura Bush and AGSP Scholar during the question and answer session
In 2006, former First Lady of the United States, Laura Bush visited the Model Secondary School Maitama in Abuja Municipal, Nigeria, where she attended a biology class followed by a question and answer session with AGSP scholars.
The visit was an opportunity for the First Lady to get a first-hand impression and testimony from AGSP scholars in Nigeria. The session was facilitated by Hadjia Mariam Othman, AGSP project coordinator from the Federation of Muslim Women in Nigeria (FOMWAN), World Education's partner NGO in the Federal Capital Territory, Niger, and Nasarawa States of Nigeria. The First Lady expressed President Bush's interest and commitment to ensuring that quality equitable basic education is provided to girls all around the world and how the AEI and AGSP are contributing to that goal.
Government and Ministry Officials
More often than not, local government authorities, mainly education and district assembly officials, are represented at scholarship distribution events across countries where they have called on parents and other community members to play their role as well and send their children to school. In some countries they have sometimes participated in program planning and mentoring activities. In Liberia, Development Education Network-Liberia (DEN-L) held a meeting with the regional District Education Officers (DEOs) to discuss scholars’ semester one progress reports and ways to encourage PTAs to double their efforts to support schools increase performance of the scholars. As a result of the meeting, the DEOs developed action points to mobilize and organize PTA meetings in the AGSP schools. Following this meeting, a total of 8 PTA meetings were conducted and information from the stakeholder workshops as well as the scholars’ midyear progress reports were provided to DEN-L. In 2010 the AGSP was launched in Cape Verde with much excitement. US Embassy staff gave the following account of activities: Students, parents, and teachers participated in the official launch of the USAID-sponsored Girls' Scholarship Program, which was presided over by Ambassador Myles in conjunction with Cape Verdean Minister of Education Octavio Tavares, the President of Cape Verdean Women's Organization (OMCV), and the Mayor of Santa Cruz. The USAID program, aimed at supporting educational opportunities for underprivileged girls, has been broadened to include economically disadvantaged students of both sexes in Santa Cruz, one of the poorest municipalities of Santiago Island. The project launch was the leading story on Cape Verde's National Television (TCV).
An Educated Girl is a Responsible Woman Conference Awards Ceremony
The collaboration between WEI and Peace Corps, particularly in Togo, continues to remain strong. In February 2010, Association pour le Developpement Integral de la Femme et de la Jeune Fille (ADIFF) together with Peace Corps Togo organized a training workshop on Sexual Reproductive Health in Sokodé. Twenty participants from ten villages took part in the training. The goal of the training workshop was to improve women's knowledge about sexual health and reproduction. In Mauritania, 2008 a 5-day conference on the theme “An Educated Girl is a Responsible Woman” was organized in Nouakchott for 60 girls, 20 mentors, 21 host mothers and 24 Peace Corps Mauritania Volunteers from all the Girls Mentoring Centers in the country. The conference comprised of educational sessions, film and group work on focusing on personal health and growth, and the right of each girl and woman to an education. The conference attendees also visited to a female owned TV station, carried environmental awareness activities at the beach, and participated in yoga and aerobics sessions, conducted by a female trainer. Other partners for the conference were the NGOs, NEDWA and Fédération Luthérienne Mondiale (FLM), the Centre Culturel Français (CCF), the Maison des Artistes, the US Embassy in Nouakchott, Peace Corps, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and phone companies Mattel and Chinguitel.
Foundations and the Private Sector
The presence of Ambassadors and other high level officials draws positive attention to the program and helps to emphasize the significance of the initiative. In addition to support from US and local government officials, our work in Region 1 has drawn attention from foundations and the private sector. In 2007 the Batonga Foundation partnered with WEI to support 305 AGSP alumni in their pursuit of high school degrees. In 2009, Procter and Gamble signed a contract with WEI to encourage girls to continue attending classes particularly during menstruation, and provided 18,000 girls with sanitary pads and puberty education throughout the 2009-2010 academic year. In February 2009, a team from Procter and Gamble, Ellen Bowman, Michelle Vaeth, and Consultant Holly Wise, visited AGSP Ghana and Nigeria, to tour schools and meet with scholars and school officials in the East Akim district in Ghana’s Eastern region and Niger State, Kwali LGA, and Abuja, FCT in Nigeria. They discussed personal hygiene and menstruation with girls and answered questions from the scholars.
In line with our efforts to increase awareness of the AGSP, one of our past beneficiaries in Ghana, Ms. Millicent Abaa Atampogbila, an AGSP Alum, was interviewed by the Public Agenda Newspaper in February 2009. The story was picked-up worldwide by other news networks. Millicent is the only girl of seven children who, thanks to AGSP, is literate. Her story can be found online through the following link: http://allafrica.com/stories/200902021203.html .
The Northern Mali Girls’ Scholarship Program was a three year initiative developed by World Education in 2005, to support girls education in Northern Mali (Gao, Timbuktu, and Kidal). The scholarship program was developed to maintain the momentum and motivation of AGSP graduates (out of elementary school). With contributions from generous individuals and private funders such as Charles Ellis and the HW Wilson Foundation, among others World Education was able to support over 660 AGSP graduates to continue onto secondary school.
Ambassabors' Girls' Scholarship Program (AGSP) is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development