Girl’s Retention and Transition Initiative (GRTI)
GRTI is HakiElimu’s innovative approach to promoting girls education in Tanzania and aims to improve girls retention, performance and transition from primary to secondary or tertiary level education.
In Tanzania more than 69,000 girls dropped out of school in 2015 (BEST, 2016). Although there is gender parity in enrolment at primary school level, the same is not the case as girls’ progress from primary to secondary schools. In advanced secondary education the country still has a long way to go with a ratio of 68:32 for boys and girls. This inequality is caused by systemic and environmental challenges, including early pregnancies, child marriages, gender based violence, poor school infrastructure, lack of access to sanitary facilities and products, domestic responsibilities for girls and unsafe distances between home and school.
Evidence shows that educating girls increases the likelihood that their children will be educated, decreases infant and maternal mortality, decreases child marriage, reduces population growth as educated women have fewer children.It also decreases gender based violence, improves socioeconomic growth and increases women’s participation in political processes, which in turn promotes a more representative, effective government.
GRTI Key Activities
1. Gender clubs to empower adolescent girls
2. Invest in infrastructure for improved school attendance
Many schools have poor or non-existent of water, sanitation and hygiene facilities. This situation has negative consequence on the learning processes of children especially girls. Reported cases of truants has been the case throughout the year schooling calendar especially to girls who are on menstrual periods. Some missing school four-to-five days a month. Moreover, communicable diseases have sometimes being reported, again affecting student’s attendance.
In collaboration with the communities, GRTI is investing in the construction of safe toilets for girl’s students, included therein a special changing room. It also facilitates construction of boreholes or connection to available water system for improved water supply to ensure that girls have a place to wash and change during menstruation. All these are aimed to improve attendance, learning and performance of girls in their examinations.
3. Sustainable access to sanitary products
GRTI is distributing sanitary products and has delivered training to students, teachers and parents in producing reusable sanitary products at home.
“I have been using magazines during menstruation, I am so happy now because I can make my own safe and comfortable pads”
A student from Ukerewe
4. Empowering communities with knowledge and structures to engage in and drive solutions for girl's education.
GRTI is delivering an evidence-based media campaign called ‘Ondoa Vikwazo Asome’ (remove barriers to learn) to raise public awareness on the barriers to girls’ education and stimulate public debate and discussion that will promote a gender sensitive, protective and friendly learning environment.
The campaign amplified at the local level by Friends of Education (FoE’s). A FoE is an individual, group or organisation who is passionate and commited to improving education and gives his or her time time to deliver local advocasy. FoE’s are working with adolescent girls to deliver community dialogues, radio shows and theatre for development to create awareness, discussion and problem solving on the barriers to girls’ education in their localities. Their efforts specifically centre around issues related to gender equality, gender based violence and sexual abuse, and the provision of clean and safe water and sanitation facilities for girls.
FoE’s also work with the schools to track and monitor attendance of girls and identify those girls who might be at risk of dropping out. Once identified the girls are provided with bespoke individual mentorship through the gender clubs and home visits to ensure the girl is supported to stay in school.
5. Monitoring policy implementation and advocating for improved access to quality education for girls
FoE’s are working with parents, teachers and students to deliver a gender analysis, to assess the school environment and its performance in providing a gender sensitive and safe learning environment for girls. The findings are used to facilitate dialogue and action plans. The involvement of girls themselves empowers them with a voice and encourages ownership for their own education.
At the national level HakiElimu is engaging government MP’s through dialogue meetings to share policy gaps, lesson’s and recommendations for policy changes and implementation, impacting the provision of quality and safe education for girls.
The overall goal of GRTI is ensure that drop out rate declines as girls stay in school and complete their education in a safe, girl friendly environment. This is achieved through 4 outcomes:
- Girls and boys are aware of their rights and are empowered with knowledge and skill to make safe decisions
- Improved school and learning environment to meet girls unique needs.
- Citizens (including parents), government and Institutions are knowledgeable and engaged together in driving solutions and accountability at the ward and district level on issues of girls’ education.
- Policies, regulations and guidelines that aim to ensure access to safe and girl-friendly education are established/completed.