Business Empowering Women to Support Learning for Girls

In Zimbabwe and Tanzania, Pearson and NGO Camfed are working together to offer new opportunities and equal access to education to empower girls in the poorest communities

Study circles and wellbeing sessions delivered by learner guides build strong relationships, trust and empathy, and are critical to keeping girls engaged in their education. Photograph: Camfed

Study circles and wellbeing sessions delivered by learner guides build strong relationships, trust and empathy, and are critical to keeping girls engaged in their education. Photograph: Camfed


Over the past three decades there has been enormous progress towards achieving gender parity in education, yet according to the UNESCO Institute of Statistics, around the world there are still 62 million girls out of school. Gender inequality in education access and completion stays with girls for the rest of their lives and translates to diminished health, social and economic outcomes into adulthood.


The Benefits of Girls’ Education

Each additional year of secondary school education increases a girl’s income by 15-25 percent, unlocking not just her economic potential but that of her family and community. An educated girl in Africa is three times less likely to get HIV/AIDS, earns 25 percent more income and will re-invest 90% of her income into her family. She has a smaller, healthier family, and challenges gender based violence and discrimination.


Seizing the Opportunity

To help seize the opportunity, in 2013 Pearson joined international NGO Camfed, with support from the UK Department of International Development and relevant national Ministries of Education, to transform educational opportunities for girls from low-income communities in Zimbabwe and Tanzania. The partnership aims at improving the learning experience and outcomes for girls from rural and often marginalized areas through sustained collaboration between not-for-profit, private and government players.


Building on Camfed’s 20 years’ experience in getting girls into school across Africa, and harnessing Pearson’s global expertise in delivering innovative learning solutions, the outcomes of the partnership have been to:


1.   Enable 60,744 vulnerable girls in Zimbabwe and Tanzania to enroll in secondary school.

2.   Empower over 400,000 girls and boys in 970 rural secondary schools to improve their educational experience and learning outcomes.

3.  Create new opportunities for young women graduates of Camfed’s programs in the poorest rural communities by training them to become Learner Guides.


Learner Guides are young female role models for girls still in school, who are uniquely qualified through their own experiences of overcoming the barriers to education imposed by poverty and marginalization. Working closely with both students and school leaders, Learner Guides identify and address particular problems that girls face which impede their school attendance and learning, and deliver an innovative complementary curriculum focusing on building individual qualities, health and wellbeing, the “My Better World” program.


Developing Deeply Relevant Learning Resources with all Stakeholders

Pearson’s specific role has been to support Camfed in developing learning resources for the “My Better World” program that are relevant to young people’s experience, as well as future employability and success. In order to do this successfully, Pearson and Camfed engaged with young people and their communities, ensuring that the educational resources developed are deeply relevant to girls and boys, as well as gender sensitive. The “My Better World” curriculum and workbook help students to build self-knowledge, discover their talents, build resilience, select role models, set goals and learn how to achieve them.


Working Towards Recognized Qualifications for Young Women Mentors

Pearson has also committed to developing a BTEC qualification framework to formally recognize the work of 5,000 Learner Guides. BTEC is one of the world’s most sought-after applied learning qualifications, providing students with a clear line of sight into work and further education. The BTEC developed will be tailored to the unique needs of the Learner Guides, support their training and assessment, and certify them, which will provide a stepping stone into formal higher education, teacher training and employment. These 5,000 Learner Guides will teach and mentor over 150,000 girls to help improve their attendance, retention and learning at secondary school -- creating a virtuous cycle of learning and empowerment.


The Impact of the Learner Guide Program

In return for the Learner Guides’ commitment, they gain access to interest-free loans via Kiva to start their own businesses, providing employment opportunities to youth in their communities. Respected for their expertise at every level, these young women are multiplying the returns of their own education for the benefit of their communities.


In this video, Nasikiwa Duke, Program Manager, Young Women’s Empowerment, at Camfed Tanzania explains why Learner Guides are important role models and confidantes, and how they work with schools, teachers, and communities to keep poor and vulnerable children in school.

Content from this blog post provided by Pearson.