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UNESCO Prize for Girls’ and Women’s Education laureate mentors Tanzanian girls through crucial school transitions

“What we do at GLAMI is work to build confident, resilient girls who understand how to navigate the challenges in their lives while prioritising their education,” said Devotha Mlay, Co-Managing Director of Programmes for GLAMI, the Girls Livelihood and Mentorship Initiative, one of the two laureates of the 2022 UNESCO Prize for Girls' and Women's Education.

GLAMI, founded in 2001, is awarded for its two flagship programmes (Binti Shupavu and Kisa) supporting 7,400 girls in the Kilimanjaro and Arusha region in the United Republic of Tanzania to safely transition between education levels, complete their education, and develop into confident leaders.

Creating a ripple effect of change

According to UIS, only 39 per cent of Tanzanian girls go to secondary school and less than 3 per cent go on to tertiary education.

“Girls in Tanzania face many obstacles to completing their education, from demands at home and at school to societal and economic pressures,” said Devotha.

But education is key for girls. “Research shows that girls who complete their education are able to secure better jobs, raise healthier families, and are more likely to prioritize education for their children. One educated girl creates a ripple effect of change that reverberates through generations,” said Monica Swai, Co-Managing Director of Operations for GLAMI.

Learning to seize the opportunities

GLAMI’s Binti Shupavu programme (‘Courageous Daughters’ in Swahili), launched in 2017 in the Kilimanjaro Region, is a life skills course for girls (aged 12 to 18) which runs during the first four years of secondary school. It covers topics such as study skills, personal leadership, health, and self-confidence with the goal of increasing graduation rates. There are currently 2,934 alumnae who have taken part in the programme, and 5,146 Binti scholars were enrolled in 22 partner schools in 2022.  

Mentors, 80 per cent of whom have been through the programme, work directly with the girls through weekly club meetings where they discuss topics such as reproductive health, and strategies for navigating challenges.

“We work with partner schools to target the girls who they think are most vulnerable and at risk of dropping out. GLAMI’s Emergency Fund is for Binti Shupavu Scholars who have extreme obstacles that put them at risk of dropping out of school, covering costs related to school fees, supplies, uniforms, health, food, and more,” said Devotha.

“GLAMI makes a point to involve and build relationships with parents from the moment their daughter joins Binti Shupavu. When parents understand what girls are learning, they help their daughters succeed in school and beyond, their perceptions shift, and they become more active participants,” continued Devotha.

Building self-belief and a sense of community

Kisa ('story' in Swahili) is a leadership course that prepares girls aged 16 to 20 to attend university and create positive social change in their communities. Currently 2,338 girls are enrolled, and 4,136 girls have completed the course. It consists of weekly classes, led by mentors (the majority of whom are programme alumni), three health symposia per year, a career day, and annual projects where girls identify and solve a challenge in their community.

“Girls learn critical skills from our curriculum, but the real win for GLAMI is seeing these girls grow and work together to put their new skills into practice. Their confidence grows so much because they are learning in a supportive environment alongside peers, from a university educated woman mentor who exemplifies what they can become.”

Kisa scholars not only graduate at higher rates, with higher test scores than their peers, they also report having higher levels of confidence, self-belief and self-expression at the end of the programme.

Support continues after graduation day

“We provide opportunities for our alumnae to stay connected to GLAMI and continue to learn and grow together with job readiness training, networking opportunities, and the chance to engage in business development seminars,” said Monica.

One Binti Shupavu alumna, Maua Shaban Fonga, said: “Becoming confident and motivated meant I was not scared to start a business. I can confidently speak to anyone anywhere! I now sell fabrics, underwear, dresses and menswear. I even run a spare parts shop for motorcycles! I am 100% financially independent and also help to support my family.”

Devotha and Monica say the UNESCO Prize for Girls’ and Women’s Education will help the programme continue to grow and reach more girls. In 2023, GLAMI will expand its Binti Shupavu programme to Morogoro in eastern Tanzania, where the dropout rate for girls is very high.

“Ultimately, our wish is that every Tanzanian girl has the education, confidence, resilience, and leadership abilities to design their own life as they want,” said Devotha.  

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Original Text (This is the original text for your reference.)

“What we do at GLAMI is work to build confident, resilient girls who understand how to navigate the challenges in their lives while prioritising their education,” said Devotha Mlay, Co-Managing Director of Programmes for GLAMI, the Girls Livelihood and Mentorship Initiative, one of the two laureates of the 2022 UNESCO Prize for Girls' and Women's Education.

GLAMI, founded in 2001, is awarded for its two flagship programmes (Binti Shupavu and Kisa) supporting 7,400 girls in the Kilimanjaro and Arusha region in the United Republic of Tanzania to safely transition between education levels, complete their education, and develop into confident leaders.

Creating a ripple effect of change

According to UIS, only 39 per cent of Tanzanian girls go to secondary school and less than 3 per cent go on to tertiary education.

“Girls in Tanzania face many obstacles to completing their education, from demands at home and at school to societal and economic pressures,” said Devotha.

But education is key for girls. “Research shows that girls who complete their education are able to secure better jobs, raise healthier families, and are more likely to prioritize education for their children. One educated girl creates a ripple effect of change that reverberates through generations,” said Monica Swai, Co-Managing Director of Operations for GLAMI.

Learning to seize the opportunities

GLAMI’s Binti Shupavu programme (‘Courageous Daughters’ in Swahili), launched in 2017 in the Kilimanjaro Region, is a life skills course for girls (aged 12 to 18) which runs during the first four years of secondary school. It covers topics such as study skills, personal leadership, health, and self-confidence with the goal of increasing graduation rates. There are currently 2,934 alumnae who have taken part in the programme, and 5,146 Binti scholars were enrolled in 22 partner schools in 2022.  

Mentors, 80 per cent of whom have been through the programme, work directly with the girls through weekly club meetings where they discuss topics such as reproductive health, and strategies for navigating challenges.

“We work with partner schools to target the girls who they think are most vulnerable and at risk of dropping out. GLAMI’s Emergency Fund is for Binti Shupavu Scholars who have extreme obstacles that put them at risk of dropping out of school, covering costs related to school fees, supplies, uniforms, health, food, and more,” said Devotha.

“GLAMI makes a point to involve and build relationships with parents from the moment their daughter joins Binti Shupavu. When parents understand what girls are learning, they help their daughters succeed in school and beyond, their perceptions shift, and they become more active participants,” continued Devotha.

Building self-belief and a sense of community

Kisa ('story' in Swahili) is a leadership course that prepares girls aged 16 to 20 to attend university and create positive social change in their communities. Currently 2,338 girls are enrolled, and 4,136 girls have completed the course. It consists of weekly classes, led by mentors (the majority of whom are programme alumni), three health symposia per year, a career day, and annual projects where girls identify and solve a challenge in their community.

“Girls learn critical skills from our curriculum, but the real win for GLAMI is seeing these girls grow and work together to put their new skills into practice. Their confidence grows so much because they are learning in a supportive environment alongside peers, from a university educated woman mentor who exemplifies what they can become.”

Kisa scholars not only graduate at higher rates, with higher test scores than their peers, they also report having higher levels of confidence, self-belief and self-expression at the end of the programme.

Support continues after graduation day

“We provide opportunities for our alumnae to stay connected to GLAMI and continue to learn and grow together with job readiness training, networking opportunities, and the chance to engage in business development seminars,” said Monica.

One Binti Shupavu alumna, Maua Shaban Fonga, said: “Becoming confident and motivated meant I was not scared to start a business. I can confidently speak to anyone anywhere! I now sell fabrics, underwear, dresses and menswear. I even run a spare parts shop for motorcycles! I am 100% financially independent and also help to support my family.”

Devotha and Monica say the UNESCO Prize for Girls’ and Women’s Education will help the programme continue to grow and reach more girls. In 2023, GLAMI will expand its Binti Shupavu programme to Morogoro in eastern Tanzania, where the dropout rate for girls is very high.

“Ultimately, our wish is that every Tanzanian girl has the education, confidence, resilience, and leadership abilities to design their own life as they want,” said Devotha.  

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