The Foundation’s approach is not to select specific countries in which to operate; rather, it supports trusted partners in their work, enabling them to use their local knowledge, expertise, and networks to judge where an intervention will have the greatest, or most widespread, impact. A number of large-scale studies have demonstrated the substantial economic and environmental positive impacts of giving girls, who would otherwise be disadvantaged or excluded, access to a good education; the Trustees therefore have a particular interest in this area.
More than 4 million school-age girls in India alone regularly fail to attend the school where they belong – one of the largest such populations, out of a global total of around 130 million. Yet a recent World Bank report showed that girls’ education, especially at secondary level, can be transformative in key areas, including earnings and standards of living; child marriage and early childbearing; health, nutrition and well-being; and agency and decision-making.
Over the course of five years, involving an extensive ‘boots on the ground’ approach, Educate Girls aims to enrol 1.6 million girls back into school; improve learning outcomes within the school system by implementing a remedial and life-skills curriculum that will supplement the state curriculum; and strengthen the school governance system and its infrastructure so that the improved enrolment figures, once achieved, are sustained. The Foundation has joined a collaborative funding initiative, together with a group of other prominent philanthropists, to support this project.
Campaign for Female Education (CAMFED)
CAMFED is a UK charity that tackles poverty and inequality through education, primarily in sub-Saharan Africa. It supports marginalised girls to attend school, to succeed academically, and then, as young women, to realise their potential to be leaders of change. In its 25 years of existence, CAMFED has helped more than 3 million children to attend school, and has recruited nearly 140,000 educated young women into the CAMFED Association (CAMA), where they are able to leverage investment in girls’ education by supporting even more girls to stay in school, and to thrive as young adults. The Foundation made a grant over 3 years to enable CAMA to pioneer ways to combat the effects of climate change on health, welfare and education, through direct support to vulnerable children, alongside strategies to reduce vulnerability in the longer term; it is hoped that this approach will in due course prove to be replicable in other countries. We subsequently made a second, unrestricted grant.
Strømme Foundation is a Norwegian development organisation that uses education to pursue its mission of creating a world free from poverty. Its approach is holistic, working with children, adolescents and their families within selected communities, thereby strengthening sustainability and maximising impact. The Foundation has supported Strømme since 2014.
The principal strands of Strømme’s work being supported by the Foundation are summarised below.
Educational work in Uganda: RISING project
With 1.2 million refugees, Uganda is Africa’s largest refugee-hosting country, with recent significant influxes from South Sudan, DRC and Burundi. Among other problems, this creates a large out-of-school population among adolescents, particularly among girls, a large proportion of whom have suffered gender-based or sexual violence. The RISING project seeks to enrol 100,000 children into formal education over 4 years.
Educational work in West Africa
The Foundation continues to support Strømme’s work in Burkina Faso and Niger, two of the world’s poorest and least developed nations. School attendance and literacy rates in these countries are low and female literacy rates are less than 20%. Without even a primary education, children lack the skills and knowledge required to improve their situation and are likely to remain impoverished for the remainder of their lives.
The programmes implemented by Strømme with funding from the Foundation and other donors provide out of school children, half of whom are girls, with accelerated learning courses designed to get them to the educational level necessary to enrol in formal school. It also includes the “A Saving for Change” programme which targets the mothers of these children and gives them the opportunity to save and obtain loans that may be used for educational expenses, to generate income, for health care and to enhance food security.
SAMVAD means ‘dialogue’ (in Sanskrit) and is a non-formal, community based, participatory education system designed especially for adolescent girls at risk of dropping out of school and being trafficked. At SAMVAD centres, the girls follow a course that includes life skills, functional literacy, building self-confidence and vocational skills. The Foundation is supporting Strømme’s existing SAMVAD programme in Nepal and Bangladesh. It is also supporting the development of this programme in West Africa, where there are countries with some of the highest rates of child marriage in the world.
Strømme’s DREAM (Development and Rehabilitation of the Economy of the Poor through Alternative Means) project continues to work with 3,000 of the poorest families in the Ayeyarwaddy district, including the tribal Karen community.
A new programme, SEEDS (Socio Economic Empowerment with Dignity and Sustainability), in the same region of Myanmar, will use a broadly similar approach, working with around 1,000 families, many of which are likely to be landless and / or headed by a female family member, in order to bring them out of extreme poverty into a sustainable socio-economic future.
Partnership for Change
Partnership for Change is a Norwegian non-profit organisation that works for the economic independence of women in Myanmar and Ethiopia. Although, in theory, Ethiopia’s educational policy gives boys and girls equal access to education, in practice – and particularly in rural communities – boys are given priority. To address this inequality and the unmet educational needs of such girls, the Foundation is funding an intensive programme of financial support and academic and life skills training in rural Ethiopia to prevent girls from deprived backgrounds from dropping out of high school.
Lively Minds, a UK charity, works in remote rural villages in Africa and trains ‘Volunteer Mothers’ to run free and informal play schemes for all pre-school children in their villages. The Volunteer Mothers are also given monthly parenting workshops to help them provide better care at home. A recent evaluation of their work by the Centre for the Evaluation of Development Policy at the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) reported that “overall, the findings suggest that the Lively Minds program is an effective and potentially scalable way to improve children’s cognitive and socio-emotional development, health, and school readiness”. The Foundation supports Lively Minds’ work in both Ghana and Uganda.
Little Sun Foundation
The Little Sun Foundation is a German non-profit organisation, founded by Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson. Little Sun creates solar-powered hand-held lamps, designed by Eliasson himself; they can be charged during the day and allow work to be undertaken during hours of darkness. The solar lamps also provide significant health and economic benefits, as they replace harmful kerosene lamps and expensive torches.
The Foundation has made grants to enable Little Sun to provide solar lamps to students in several African countries, to allow them to undertake homework, and thus to increase their study time and academic attainment.
World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts
The World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) is the world’s largest voluntary Movement dedicated to girls and young women. For more than 100 years Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting has transformed the lives of girls and young women, supporting and empowering them to achieve their fullest potential and to become responsible citizens of the world. The Movement now represents ten million girls and young women from 150 countries, helping them through innovative non-formal education programmes, leadership development, advocacy and community action, thereby empowering girls and young women to develop the skills and confidence needed to make positive changes in their lives, their communities and countries.
The Foundation is supporting a new programme designed by WAGGGS, which will be implemented in partnership with local Guiding Associations, initially in three countries in sub-Saharan Africa. It aims to increase awareness of climate related issues, to support direct adaptation and mitigation action at community or national level, and to increase the future capacity for women to take leadership roles in climate change response.