Kigali – 21 July 2023 | In a world where education is often considered a passport to a better life, the United Nations Human Rights Commission warns that approximately 130 million girls around the world continue to struggle to access this human right. These challenges stem from various factors, including poverty, early marriage, gender-based violence, conflict, and displacement.
Attended by 6000 key stakeholders and representatives from around the world, the Women Deliver Conference, which took place in Rwanda from 17-20 July 2023, provided a platform for meaningful dialogue and the identification of effective strategies to address those challenges.
A notable panel discussion, “More for her: A conversation on transformative education approaches for out-of-school girls in the Global South,” highlighted the harsh realities millions of girls in these regions encounter in their educational journey. According to UNESCO, nine million girls between the ages of six and 11 in Sub-Saharan Africa will never attend school.
Ella Ininahazwe, the Preparatory Programs Manager at Kepler and one of the panelists, works to create programs that empower vulnerable youth, including refugees and financially constrained students from host communities through Kepler’s Iteme and Refugee Guidance Counselor Program.
These two programs and Iteme in particular focuses on preparing students with refugee status, and girls and students with disabilities in particular for tertiary education including scholarship application and long term support. These programs have served over 1,000 including young women in Rwanda and Ethiopia.
In her comments, Ella emphasized the importance of integrated, inclusive approaches that consider the unique challenges faced by girls. Kepler’s preparatory program Iteme does this by tailoring its training both in terms of content and length to meet girls where they are. Iteme’s program which runs in Rwanda and Ethiopia runs for 16 weeks in Rwanda’s refugee camps, 8 weeks longer than for boys. The additional time focuses on building girls’ confidence and improving their language skills.
“For a holistic response to gender-related issues, we need meaningful and intentional collaboration with all stakeholders when designing and implementing our programs,” she said.
Despite challenging obstacles, Ella pointed out that innovative educational approaches like the one’s implemented by Kepler are offering glimmers of hope.
“These approaches not only provide access to education but also create supportive, safe, and holistic learning environments for every girl. And that’s what is needed,” she added.
Research has shown that investing in girls’ education has a multiplier effect on economic growth and social development.
At Kepler, efforts extend beyond addressing surface-level education issues to tackling deep-seated gender disparities that hinder young women’s access to education. With women making up 50% of Kepler’s university population, 90% find employment within six months after graduation and 43% of female graduates are promoted within the first year.
This impact underscores how the transformative power of education combined with innovative, gender-inclusive approaches can change the education landscape for vulnerable communities.
Check out below the work we are doing to support our women learners reach their full potential.