Some women civil society organizations, including Helping Our People Excel (HOPE), CareFound Liberia, and Paramount Young Women’s Initiative (PAYOWI), are calling for more support for the education of the girl child to increase their enrollment and retention in Liberian schools.
The three top women civil society organizations have begun their advocacy campaign under the theme “Educate Her”. The campaign aims to promote gender equity and equality in education for girls.
Its goal is to contribute to the effective implementation of the National Policy on girls’ education (NPGE) with a specific focus on the areas that address the key barriers to girls’ attendance, retention, and completion (GARC) in secondary schools.
Paramount Young Women’s Initiative (PAYOWI) Program officer, Hawa C. Wilson, at a one-day Girls’ Education Summit held June 21, at the Ministe,rial Complex in Congo Town said the campaign seeks to build a coalition that will advocate for the effective implementation of policies that advance girls education in Liberia.
Ms. Wilson said the “Educate Her” coalition builds strategic partnerships with government line ministries, civil society organizations, donors, women-led rights groups, autonomous social movements, and media institutions to align their technical resources to invest in the capacity of education stakeholders.
She added that the coalition will work with educational stakeholders to ensure the implementation of the national policy on girls’ education, which is important for Liberia’s education.
“The coalition came into force after a look at some of the challenges and obstacles that young women and girls faced while seeking to acquire secondary education and how to work with stakeholders to address them,” Ms. Wilson said.
For her part, the Executive Director of Helping Our People Excel (HOPE), Aisha Cooper Bruce, said the county action plan outlines key priority action steps that will be taken to support the girls’ education at the county and community levels.
Mrs. Bruce said they are working with educational stakeholders at all levels, to address key issues such as early marriage or parenthood, sexual harassment or abuse, male teachers impregnating students, cultural and religious practices, and the overburden of the girl child to become like a bread winner.
She mentioned that the campaign which is three years is expected to improve programs for policy implementation, and increased penalization for child labor and transactional sex that continued to lead to girls to poor retention in schools.
According to her, there’s a need for all stakeholders to work together and network to ensure that more is done to achieve or improve girls’ retention in schools.
“There's a need for increased financing of girls’ education because it’s not just the ideas or training provided, money is needed to have the work done,” she explained.
“We need to increase our coordination and capacity around girls’ education with the main focus being national policy on girls’ education. We want to ensure that this new policy is implemented well,” she said.
Also speaking, the president of the National Teachers Association of Liberia, (NTAL) Mary M. W. Nyumah called for creating more awareness about the teacher code of conduct which will help to make teachers understand what the code of conduct requires to ensure a better teacher and student relationship.
“Some of our teachers have not seen the code of conduct and therefore are not aware of what will happen to them if they get into relationships with female students. A teacher needs to have a copy and also understand the girls’ education campaign. With this, they will know that if they go wrong, something is available to punish them,” Mrs. Nyumah said.
According to her, stakeholders have sat around the table for too long and written many policies but implementation has been the problem, stating “we don’t have the funding.”
In November 2021, 150 school administrators at the secondary-level and education officers in the 15 counties were trained to expand the participants' understanding of NPGE and other policy instruments that support girls’ education and develop county-level strategies.