In her latest Brookings blog, CAMFED CEO Lucy Lake describes how marginalized girls lack the confidence to engage in the classroom; and how CAMFED’s life skills program – delivered by its alumnae – bridges the distance between girls going to school and learning.

Securing girls’ right to go to school is one thing; ensuring they can learn while they are there is quite another.

“In a recent major survey undertaken by the Campaign for Female Education (CAMFED) in Tanzania and Zimbabwe, low academic self-esteem was the second most frequently expressed reason for dropping out of school among marginalized girls, after poverty-related issues. Girls lack the confidence to engage in the classroom; quite literally, they do not feel they have the right to learn. This has major implications for the nature of support provided to girls if we are to bridge the distance between girls going to school—and learning.

Over the past 23 years, CAMFED has supported girls’ education in rural areas of Africa where the school enrollment and retention of girls has lagged behind that of boys. We work in partnership with ministries of education and operate in government school systems. We have focused on enabling the most marginalized girls to progress through school to the completion of secondary education and to spotlight the obstacles they face on their journey. This spotlight has illuminated two key issues: first, the relevance of learning content to girls’ lives in enabling them to acquire critical knowledge and skills, and second, the importance of the learning context in reinforcing an environment in which girls’ rights and well-being are protected.”

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