At WomensTrust we believe that when you educate a girl,
her future becomes limitless.
Research clearly shows that when girls are educated, all quality-of-life indicators improve: Educated women have smaller families, live longer and healthier lives, and follow more stable economic paths. In Ghana, getting an education is getting easier for girls, but there are still challenges. Girls drop out or are pulled out of school by their families for economic and other reasons at a much higher rate than boys, and the number of girls who actually graduate from high school, particularly in poor rural areas, is depressingly small.
Though officially free, even basic schooling brings costs in Ghana. Shoes and a uniform, for example, can cost up to 90 cedis (or around $24) - a significant sum for people lacking any disposable income). Although school is theoretically compulsory for eight years for girls, the high cost means that it remains out of reach far too often for far too many girls.
Nor is cost the only issue. Girls may be pulled out of school to help their overwhelmed mothers carry water or care for their families. Too often they are forced into child marriages. Teen pregnancies are also a problem. Then there’s the problem of sanitation. Girls attending schools without bathrooms often drop out upon reaching puberty for all the obvious reasons.
That’s where we come in. Girls' access to education is at the core of our mission. WomensTrust's "Keep Girls in School" program, established in Ghana in 2004, currently provides scholarships to 200 disadvantaged girls ages 7-17 that cover the cost of their education as well as ancillary counseling and enrichment services. In 2014 WomensTrust expanded its scholarship program providing scholarships for tertiary education to high school graduates. We now have 8 girls in college, an extraordinary achievement for girls from impoverished backgrounds whose mothers are in most cases illiterate.
All of our scholarship recipients are academic achievers who are at risk of dropping out of school--or can no longer attend--due to a lack of funds or family support. Scholarships from WomensTrust help pay for school fees, backpacks and books, and cover the numerous other expenses the girls face. For students pursuing tertiary education WomensTrust provides full scholarship for tuition room and board and gives each girls laptop computer.
Important elements of the WomensTrust scholarship program are the enrichment activities that offer additional support for success. One such program is the after school computer training provided at WomensTrust offices in Pokuase. This provides scholarship girls with training on and access to computers giving them essential skills not available in their schools. Another is a newly instituted program to provide tutoring in basic subjects so as to better prepare the girls for the national exams required to qualify for admission to secondary and tertiary schools.
A third program is College for Ama (CofA), a summer camp that provides girls with an immersion experience on a college campus. CofA provides mentoring by college educated role models, classes in English, Mathematics and opportunities to develop presentation skills and boost self-confidence. Girls at the camp learn, often for the first time, that they are important, and that their capacity to achieve is unlimited.
In addition to working directly with girls and their families, WomensTrust has partnered with Women in Social Enterprise (“WISE”) to build toilets at the schools our scholarship girls attend. Access to basic sanitary facilities makes it easier and safer for girls to remain in school.