Educating girls saves lives and builds stronger families, communities and economies

Equal access to quality education is vital for the future of her country and the wider world. It is the key to sustainable development. However, achieving quality education remains a challenge. 

Around the world girls suffer from injustice, difficulty accessing school, violence on their way to and at school as well as child marriage and labour. Missing out on an education will mean that girls and women will remain underrepresented in our future leaders. 

Education allows a better life. It is indispensable for ending the generational cycles of poverty and disease and provides the means to achieve sustainable development.

Quality education can enable girls and boys to have the knowledge and skills to behave responsibly and to play an active role in social, economic and political decision-making. 

When an educated child goes from adolescence to adulthood, they have a better chance of growing into an adult who can and will give back to society.  

If more children receive a quality education, they are more likely to send their children to school and help to end the cycle of missing out on an education. 

Since 2017, Centre de Recherche sur l’Anti-Corruption – through its NORAD-funded project “Students Acting for Honesty, Integrity and Equality” – spreads awareness and campaigns for the achievement of the education and gender equality goals set by the Sustainable Development Goals 4 (quality education) and 5 (achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls).

The aim of campaigns organised by the Centre de Recherche sur l’Anti-Corruption is to sensitise parents, decision-makers, opinion leaders and civil society to their effective and efficient commitment to get girls to schools, including those living with disabilities. 

Equal access to education and quality education for all can help address the deeply entrenched and often sexist inequalities in our societies. 

Education for all requires all children to go to school without discrimination. The government must give children the right to education and free primary education, as stipulated in the country’s constitution. 

It is also one of the regulatory provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child – the right to education. 

It is an inalienable right, it is an inescapable right, it is a sacred right that must not be mortgaged, it is a fundamental right that opens the doors of life to the human being.

It is a right that is more than a right. It is a right that must be respected.

Strengthening our Accountability to people we work with

Communities and young people should be involved in making decisions about programmes that affect them, from design and delivery to monitoring and evaluation.

NGOs, Agencies, Government, among others, must be accountable to the communities and young people they serve. They should share with them as much information about their work as they can, so that the people they work with are well informed about programs that affect them. For example, they must constantly organise feedback sessions with community members, including those who are marginalised and invite them to tell what they think about the projects and activities, and show that their opinions matter.

How do we strengthen accountability to our beneficiaries?

At CERC, we make sure to listen and respond to community opinions, treat them with respect and show that their opinions matter.

We listen to young people’s voices to be sure that our programmes are responding to their needs. Young people’s views are critical to our programme delivery, making our work more relevant and sustainable, and allowing young people to be an active part of their own development.

This approach allows us to run programmes that are more relevant to people’s real priorities and needs. It allows us to hear feedback about our programmes and adapt them as a result. So, it improves the quality of our work, as well as building the self-confidence of community members to claim their rights.

Our years of experience working in communities gives us credibility and ensures that young people and communities feel comfortable working openly and honestly with us. We use a range of participation methods – always adapted for the local context – to ensure that we communicate properly with young people and communities about the programmes we are running.

How we did it in the past?

A crucial element of our community integrity building program has been a two-way feedback system between communities and decision-makers.

Community feedback has been facilitated by young people, who used methods such as text messaging, phone interviews and radio call-ins to gather opinions and ideas. This feedback helped shape CERC’s ongoing program, as well as the responses of other organisations. By supporting young people to gather this feedback, they gained valuable skills and had the opportunity for their voices to be heard by community leaders.

Reaching and engaging marginalized youth

In Democratic Republic of the Congo, many children from minority-marginalized groups suffer from injustice, difficulty-accessing school, and violence on their way to and at school as well as child marriage and labour. Missing out on an education will mean that students living with disabilities and those from marginalized groups will remain underrepresented in our future leaders.

How is CERC curbing stigma and marginalization?

Empowerment and Participation can enable youth and people living with disabilities and those form marginalized groups to have the knowledge and skills to behave responsibly and to play an active role in social, economic and political decision-making.

CERC actively sought the participation of students of marginalized minority groups that faced a variety of barriers and challenges due to their identity and systemic oppression in that context.

With the Student Acting for Honesty, Integrity and Equality project, CERC was integrated gender equality and social inclusion into every aspect of the Community Integrity Building program. Our partner’s schools was trained and supported to reduce inequalities and exclusion in education.

Outcome

With this investment, we have empowered women, girls, and all individuals at risk of exclusion within the communities in which CERC works to actively participate in decision that affect their lives.

The students from the minority groups that engaged took on additional leadership roles within the Integrity Clubs were empowered by their participation and were able to monitor the delivery of education and infrastructure services in their schools and communities. The participation had multiplier effects for those students, who, in many cases, were experiencing less exclusion due to their participation. Moreover, the participation of diverse youth strengthened the group.

Why it Worked

By providing a diverse base of youth the opportunity to engage with other youth and gain tangible skills, youth were incentivized to participate in social, economic and political decision-making and had something to gain from the experience. The diversity of the Integrity Clubs strengthened participation and improved the benefits of participating for all students involved.

In addition, by creating a selective process for participation, engagement was framed as a privilege and opportunity and there was space to hand select a diverse and representative group that could benefit from engagement.