Supporting the education of 300 vulnerable young girls in Senegal

The SCOLFILLE project, developed by Action Education and supported by the L'Oréal Fund for Women and Asigma, began its activities in Senegal in January 2021 for a period of 2 years. The goal is to support the schooling and success of 300 young girls at risk of dropping out of school in the regions of Fatick and Kolda..

In these two regions, many difficulties hinder girls from pursuing their studies: school fees, patriarchal traditions, sexist stereotypes, lack of female role models, etc. From the beginning of the project, 300 girls at risk of dropping out of school were identified in 5 colleges. The preliminary collection of information made it possible to better understand the difficulties they face and to put in place adequate services to improve their situation in a sustainable way.

Opinion leaders, elected officials, village chiefs, religious guides and parents were sensitized to the importance of girls' schooling. Teachers have been trained to encourage the participation, involvement and motivation of girls in the learning process.

The 5 colleges of the project have been equipped with laptops, video projectors and tablets to facilitate learning at home for the girls. They also received school supply kits and reusable sanitary pads.

Personalized support

From the beginning of the project, a system was designed to allow these young girls to be accompanied by 120 older students. Each girl receives support from a student/mentor, called "Magalé" or "Diadia", which means "big sister" in Wolof and Fulani.

These education students provide moral support, advice, and confidence building for the young college girls. Each student accompanies between one and three college girls and regularly organizes a telephone exchange with each of them on a given theme. 16 themes are addressed, including: career plans, self-confidence and self-esteem, relationships with parents, organization of the day, relationships with teachers, work at home, hygiene, menstrual management, harassment, hobbies, social networks, etc.

The girls really appreciate the exchanges ("talks") with their tutor. Some students take the initiative to call them outside of the scheduled hours for the talks in order to receive practical advice. Faced with sometimes shy middle school girls, their older sisters help them to overcome their shyness by getting them to express themselves more.

The project is not yet complete, but Action Education is already seeing very positive results: 295 girls (98%) have completed the 2020-2021 school year without dropping out and 252 girls (84%) are moving on to the next grade. Our goal of having at least 75% of the 300 girls pass to the 3rd grade has already been achieved!

During a meeting that took place in June between 50 students and the schoolgirls, a testimony written by one of the tutors particularly moved us: "It is really with great joy that I write to you, and all this thanks to the exchanges I had with my goddaughter, exchanges full of emotions and positivity. I realize that this project is really of great importance. Because it changes the turn of a life, and the perception of things of our goddaughters. The most important thing for me today is the testimony of the parents about what I am doing with their daughter thanks to the association. I have received prayers from the parents. I am very proud of the mission we have been given because it is already bearing fruit."

Photo credits: Action Education Afrique

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