A story of how older women are engaging to mentor out of school girls in their communities, in an
effort to socially empower, prepare and re-enroll them back into formal Schools.
It is often said, ‘educate a woman you educate a nation’, such is the story of Agnes Ndala a woman dedicated to ensuring that out of school girls in her community are re-enroll back in School, with a current success record of having re-enrolled eight girls back in school in less than a year.
Agnes a 55year old resident of Mumbwa has been a resilient member of Peoples Action Forum since 2004 and has benefited from various People’s Action Forum empowerment trainings including stigma and discriminations, Leadership, and numerous Income generating activity trainings that she says have made her a proactive member of her community.
The introduction of Girls Action Community Clubs in 2014, an intervention program implemented by PAF under the RFF program, aimed at increasing re-enrollment of out-of-school girls that have either never attended school or may have dropped out due to reasons such as early pregnancies, lack of financial support, long distance to school and early marriages, saw Agnes among 61 volunteers that were trained as community Mentors in Mumbwa and Chipata. These mentors have since formulated 61 community clubs with an estimated membership of 866 girls, 558 in Mumbwa and 398 in Chipata.
Agnes participated in this program because she felt the need to be part of an initiative that would empower her community by helping out-of-School girls re-enroll back in school, being fully aware of the Value of education. She attributes her motivation for empowering the young girls to her own lack of opportunity to complete basic education saying she wants a better future for the next generation of women in her community, in her own words she says “I never had the opportunity to complete my education because I was married off, so I want to make a deference by encouraging the young girls to go back to school even after being married or falling pregnant”.
Agnes has since given her time to mentor 11 girls between the ages of 9 and 12 who had dropped out of school in grades 4 and 5, she further has a rarer inclusion of 2 boys that are eager to re-enter formal education. The group meets every Wednesday and Agnes uses a special tailored Girls Action Forum Curriculum to draw lessons and activities. The curriculum is designed to deliver and monitor innovative learning activities that encourage girls’ retention and progression through school, as well as their transition to being functional members of their communities.
Having to operate from a rural setup Agnes faces various challenges in mentoring her club among them is absenteeism, this is mostly due to the fact that some of the girls head houses, have children or are in marriage, hence prioritizing house chores over club meeting. However even with the challenges, Agnes is determined and has gone to great extents to ensure that she sees the girls back in school; she took it upon herself to tailor school uniforms for two of the girls that have re-enrolled in school. While to counter the challenge of walking long distances to a government school she autonomously identified and negotiated eight places for her mentees at a nearby Community School.
In a show of concern and true mother hood Agnes has continued to meet the enrolled girls in an endeavor that they may be motivated and remain in school while looking to create opportunities for the remaining girls.