AGSP/Benin At a Glance:
SCHOLARSHIPSWorld Education has partnered with two local organizations in Benin, Actions Communautaires pour le Développement Durable (ACDD), and Groupe d’Action pour la Justice et l’Egalité Sociale (GAJES), to help provide scholarships, find and train mentors, and oversee the program. World Education also conducts capacity building activities with each NGO to strengthen their skills.
To date, 7,982 scholarships have been awarded to 6,377 girls and 1,605 boys in Benin (see Table 2). In 2010 ACDD and GAJES distributed scholarships to 1,256 continuing scholars (809 girls, 447 boys) (see Table 1). The NGO partners routinely conduct school and organized group study sessions monitoring visits to ensure student attendance and productive learning. Mentoring activities remain a strong component of the program with special attention to reproductive health issues of teens and young women. AGSP’s work with the community has proven productive, as support continues to grow and communities develop and implement sustainable plans that will benefit current scholars and non-AGSP students beyond 2011.
No new AGSP scholars were added to the program this year. Scholarship distribution ceremonies took place in early January 2010. Each of the ceremonies was well attended with support from Alice Gnonlonfoun USAID-Benin Representative, the Head of the School District, School Administrators, Parents, Teachers and the wider community. The scholarship package includes books, school supplies, backpacks, school fees, shoes, uniforms and breakfast. Distribution of scholarships amongst the various NGO partners for this academic year is indicated in the table below.
During the ceremony it was stressed that scholars should be closely monitored and supported by the teachers, parents and mentors. The ceremonies also provided an opportunity to generate awareness of AGSP achievements and encourage the community to continue to encourage their children through school and think beyond the life of the AGSP program.
Table 1 AGSP Scholars in Benin Year Six
Table 2. AGSP Scholarship Distribution in Benin
There are currently 54 mentors volunteering in Benin. These volunteers are business women, dress makers, housewives who have at least completed primary school and teachers who have been recruited by the communities. The mentors have been actively monitoring the girls’ academic work, organizing home visits, and helping to organize and supervise study groups both at school and in the girls’ homes. This year NGOs are organizing a refresher training workshop on the use of the USAID Girls Mentoring Resource Guide. Also, with assistance from other community members, mentors have become involved in the management of the school breakfast program in AGSP schools and expressed great appreciation for the breakfast program because of its positive impact on the children’s learning and health.
In addition to the regular scholarship items distributed this year, sanitary pads, were also given out to female AGSP Scholars who had begun their menstrual cycle. These sanitary pads were made available through a partnership between Procter & Gamble and World Education. Before the distribution of the sanitary pads, the adolescent girl scholars were interviewed in order to determine their familiarity with the sanitary napkins and their use. Each girl received 2 packs of sanitary pads that will be replenished after 2 months. The sanitary pad distribution was done with the support of the community health workers. They had special sessions with the girls to help them understand the usage and disposal of the pads. The girls were told not to sell or give away the napkins. The not for sale stickers were placed on each pack of napkins.
In addition to regular mentoring activities for the scholars the NGO partners continued to strengthen their relationships with the community. PTAs, teachers, and school authorities have been highly involved in the monitoring of mentoring activities, especially support classes provided to scholars. To this end PTAs have regular weekly meetings to discuss activities and scholar issues. The teachers and school management committees have also been very active in managing the school canteen breakfast distribution.
Ambassabors' Girls' Scholarship Program (AGSP) is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development