Much has happened in the Verizon Innovative Learning Program (VILP) in last two months, including a few initial milestones. The teachers’ workshop was completed in Chennai, and 200 girls have been selected for the program. The girls were chosen based on their motivations and interest in the program and their economic and educational vulnerability. It surely is a matter of pride and responsibility for these girls as they embark on their journey with us. We are very excited!
This past September, 100 underserved girls in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia—50 from Addis Ketema School and 50 from Fitawrari Abayneh School—were awarded the Higher Education Readiness (HER) Scholarship. The scholarship provides the girls with financial support combined with innovative leadership and life skills training to help them complete their secondary education and equip them with the tools needed to continue on to university.
What is that one unique trait you have that is valuable for your school? What is your vision for the future as teachers of your school? Do you dare to dream? How do you expand your comfort zone? Can education technology replace teachers in the class room?
This and many more thought-provoking questions were part of a unique opportunity for 17 Science and Math teachers and principals from five government schools of the Hyderabad district in India to participate in a two-day reflection process.
Last week, I had the great privilege to participate in the panel “From Higher Education to Women’s Leadership” convened by the Open a Door Foundation during the 58th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) at the United Nations. Before an attentive, vocal, and positive audience, I joined Barbara Bylenga from Open a Door and Leo Motiuk from the Afghan Girls Financial Assistance Fund to discuss the impact of higher education for women on solving problems such as poverty and disease and the need to integrate higher education into the next round of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Our moderator was Ruthie Taylor from the Orchid Project, a London-based NGO that is pioneering a highly effective, community-based approach to ending the practice of female genital cutting.
Change occurs after people take action, and action occurs when people are inspired. I love to be inspired. Who doesn’t? When I’m inspired, I feel an almost physical response—suddenly my day looks brighter, my life seems more exciting, my dreams more attainable, and those around me appear as potential partners with whom I want to share the thrill, build momentum, and take action. So, I ask myself “How and when am I most inspired?” If I can figure it out, I can share it with more people, and keep the inspiration buzz going and growing.
The percentage of girls admitted each year to the prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology has been falling. The Joint Entrance Exam 2012 report states that the percentage of girls admitted has decreased from 9.9 in 2011 to 9.7 in 2012. My previous post, Introducing the Girls’ STEM Education Program in India, explains a few of the causes and our endeavors to break those barriers. In continuation of the needs assessment plan for the pilot program to be launched in Southern India, the IIE team set out for another site visit in December 2013.
The IIE Addis Ababa office held an award ceremony at Fitawrari and Addis Ketema schools to celebrate the final selection of the Higher Education Readiness (HER) recipients. The 100 girls had successfully completed this past spring’s tutoring sessions, attended and did well in the summer enrichment activities including English language training and leadership and life skills development, and scored well enough on the Ethiopian National Exam to proceed directly to the 11th grade academic track. Congratulations to all of the HER recipients! We are very proud of you and look forward to working with you over the coming two years.
While the literacy rate among girls is getting better gradually, the gender gap still continues and when it comes to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields, girls are significantly underrepresented in most parts of India. Various factors are responsible for this disparity, such as differential socialization of men and women, impaired self-confidence and expectations regarding the impact of children on women's academic careers. Parents may not want to spend money for their daughters, or do not want to send their daughters to faraway places for safety concerns. The roots of this problem in India lie in the different gender experiences of boys and girls. As young girls and women, females are socialized to seek help and be help givers rather than to be self-reliant or to function autonomously or competitively, as are boys.
At the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting this week, Khalida Brohi spoke on a plenary panel literally filled with rock stars including President Clinton, Christine Lagarde, Mo Ibrahim, Sheryl Sandberg and Bono, but Khalida shone brightest of all. Bono, at one point, interrupted her with a gasp and said “Khalida, you are awesome.” He is right. Khalida spoke about her work fighting to end honor killings in Pakistan, and of the many times she cried growing up as she witnessed tragedies unfolding around her. She spoke of her father, who dried her tears and said, “My dear, do not cry. Strategize.”
This summer has been a busy but exciting one for the girls in IIE’s Higher Education Readiness (HER) program. After IIE "trained the trainers," which I detailed in my previous blog, this summer we have focused on working with the girls on leadership and life skills development and English language training.