Introducing Rural Africa’s Change Makers
On a visit to meet with UK partners and colleagues, Nasikiwa Duke, CAMFED Tanzania’s Program Manager for Young Women’s Empowerment, told the remarkable story of CAMFED’s Learner Guides, who are not only supporting the most marginalized children to stay in school, but transforming the status of girls and women in their communities as leaders and change-makers.
In an interview conducted at Homerton College, Cambridge, Nasikiwa described the Learner Guide Program, which was conceived by CAMFED to provide vital support for marginalized children at school, and for young graduates during the critical time after they complete school, empowering communities to address the learning crisis, the job crisis, and the teaching crisis.
Self-knowledge and personal growth
CAMFED partnered with Pearson and young people in rural Africa to create the highly relevant My Better World curriculum used by Learner Guides, designed to deliver the ‘soft skills’ that fall outside the standard curriculum, helping vulnerable children – as well as the Learner Guides themselves – build self-knowledge, discover their talents, build resilience, select role models, set goals and learn how to achieve them – thus building a better world for themselves and their communities.
Growing local economies
Learner Guides benefit from access to low-risk interest-free loans through the online lending platform Kiva, enabling them to start or grow local businesses. Through these businesses, Learner Guides are creating jobs for young people in their communities, supporting their families, advancing their own education, and supporting more children through school.
Positions of trust and influence
As a result of their work with students, teachers, schools and communities, their ability to make home visits, keep girls in schools, and link poor families to vital services, Learner Guides have gained huge status and recognition. Nasikiwa explained, “When I asked a Learner Guide, Gracie, what it is she loves most about being a Learner Guide, she said, ‘Nasi, I was just a housewife, a nobody. Today I am somebody. My husband supports me very well. When I have a Learner Guide session in school, and I am late, he will take my Kiva loan repayment and go and deposit in the bank. Meanwhile he tells me, ‘Go to school. Students are waiting.’”
A new BTEC qualification developed in partnership with Pearson will allow Learner Guides to pursue formal teaching qualifications, taking up positions as much-needed female teachers and professional role models at their rural schools.
A scalable model
In 2014 alone, CAMFED trained 2,575 CAMA alumnae as Learner Guides. They introduced 87,600 students to the My Better World program at 1,009 partner schools. “With the CAMA network growing to 130,000 over the next few years, this scalable, sustainable program has the most incredible transformative potential. These young women are the change makers in their families, in their communities, and their nations,” Nasikiwa concludes.