Almost all Liberian students (82% in primary school) are too old for their grade level. The reasons for this are multiple –
– and the impact isn’t going away.
Over-age children are more vulnerable and are at greater risk of dropping out of school because of their lack of confidence and self-esteem or the need to help at home or join the labour market to financially support their family. Girls, in particular, are at risk due to early pregnancy, early marriage and sexual harassment.
CODE’s Girls Accelerated Learning Initiative (GALI), implemented together with the WE-CARE Foundation (WCF) of Liberia, establishes an after-school girls' learning program that enables over-age girls in early grades (1 to 3) to pursue an accelerated path towards a more age-appropriate grade level. Working with select female teachers, the program offers a safe and enjoyable learning environment for girls to improve their literacy skills, while learning more about gender-specific topics and sexual health literacy. With increased skills and knowledge comes greater self-esteem, self-reliance and motivation to take charge of their own learning.
GALI is currently being piloted in 5 schools in Liberia and will be scaled to 25 schools in the Bomi and Margibi counties starting September 2018 with the support of the 60 million girls Foundation.
The approach places the focus on female teachers (whenever possible) who each work with groups of approximately 10 girls in an afterschool reading club setting. The teachers, who have already benefitted from professional development as part of the Reading Liberia program, receive a refresher course in instructional strategies related to the teaching of reading and writing to enhance their ability to support older girls in the acquisition of more advanced, meaningful literacy skills. The afterschool clubs are resourced with quality, relevant learning materials for reading, discussion and debate. In that regard, an important aspect of the program is the inclusion of content related to hygiene, sex education and menstrual health management. Many of the girls in the program do not otherwise have the opportunity to learn about these topics. By providing this important information, girls are empowered not only with enhanced learning skills but with greater knowledge of life skills that help develop the confidence needed to succeed and stay in school.