USAID Awards Scholarships to 72 primary school girls

USAID/DRC Mission Director Diana B. Putman hands over symbolically to school girl a backpack containing several school items (State Dept photo)On October 7, 2014, USAID distributed scholarships to 72 girls from the public Primary  School (EP) 7 Kimpangi in the Kintambo Commune. The scholarship award ceremony marked the official launch of activities of the USAID-funded project “Empowering Adolescent Girls to Lead through Education (EAGLE)” for the 2014-2015 school year.

Education statistics show that girls and women lag behind in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).  Violence on the way to school and at school, old-fashioned traditional norms such as early marriages, and economic pressures are some of the contributing factors. The number of girls enrolled in school shrinks drastically as one move from primary to secondary and to the university levels.  Girls’ drop-out rates rank amongst the highest in the sub-region.

EAGLE applies a gender-transformative approach which engages girls, boys, women and men in actively examining and changing entrenched unequal gender norms that largely harm girls and women and hinder their social and economic development. It particularly targets adolescent girls in the fifth and sixth years of primary school, supports their transition to secondary school and equips them with the skills necessary to become active agents for change in their communities.

Gender Minister Geneviève Inagosi hands a backpack to a school girl (State Dept photo)“Education is the most effective way to tackle development challenges . Educating girls reduces infant mortality and improves the nutritional status of households. Education gives your daughter the means to better take care of herself and her family. Through education, she will better educate her children and will become a strength for the entire family,” noted Diana Putman, USAID/DRC Mission Director.  Recognizing the United States Government’s support to the DRC’s education strategies of making quality education accessible to Congolese children, the DRC Deputy Minister of Education, Maguy Rwakabuba added “We thank the Government of the United States for its coherent support aligning with the strategic priorities of the DRC Education interim plan related to the access, equity, school retention, and the quality of Education”.

To date, the five-year, $16 million EAGLE project has selected 909 girl and 108 boy scholarship beneficiaries; trained 54 teachers to be first responders in school-related gender-based violence (SRGBV) and 162 mentors to provide guidance on life choices and life skills to select students; designed and printed 750 teaching guides; and trained 421 primary school teachers and administrators in reading, writing, math, gender-sensitive pedagogy and other alternative teaching methodologies that will reduce inequalities and prevent SRGBV.