The second phase of Opportunity International’s ‘Empowerment for Girls’ Education’ in Uganda has begun, enabling the project to reach 30,000 girls, following official sign-off from DFID’s Girls’ Education Challenge (GEC). GEC was established to help the world’s poorest girls access quality education.
More girls now go to school than ever before, but they still face distinct obstacles including cultural norms, inadequate facilities during menstruation, security risks, pregnancy, or even child marriage.
In Uganda, dropout rates for girls are high. Some 49 percent of girls marry before the age of 18 and teenage pregnancy rates are 24 percent. In 2014, just 13 percent of girls completed their upper secondary school.
“Education for women and girls means healthier mothers and children, fewer child marriages, and faster economic growth,” said Nathan Byrd, who runs the EduFinance programme.
“We’re excited to continue our support to the Government of Uganda under the UK’s Girls’ Education Challenge,” he said.
Running from July 2013 to April 2017, phase one of EduFinance’s award-winning work in Uganda launched financial products, such as school improvement loans, school fee loans, and more. Some 51,892 girls benefitted from the programme, which included school improvement loans, school fee loans, saving products, and financial education too. It also saw new gender-separated toilets, dormitories, school transport, and extra classrooms.
The project included financial education, life skills, and entrepreneurship training for over 13,000 girls and coaching for almost 1,000 teachers and proprietors. This helped teachers to manage the schools and significantly improved the girls’ self-esteem, further helping to boost learning and attendance.
Awards for the project include the Civil Society Achievement Award, given by Child and Youth Finance International. It was also a finalist in the European Microfinance Awards, which recognized the role of microfinance in increasing access to education.
An independent evaluation found that Opportunity International’s work in Uganda has had a positive and statistically significant impact on girls’ education, increasing the numbers of girls in school and improving learning outcomes too.
“Education is quite simply the best route out of poverty, and microfinance can play a critical role in increasing access, quality, and gender equity,” Byrd said.
Budgeted at £2.5 million (US$ 3.2 million) from May 2017 to March 2020, the second phase – called “Empowerment for Girls’ Education” - will directly benefit nearly 30,000 girls, Byrd said.
Opportunity’s project partners include the Private Education Development Network, Aflatoun, First Book, Teach a Man to Fish, Opportunity Bank of Uganda Limited, Link Community Development International, and Friends Consult Limited.