Malawi is one of world’s poorest nations. Life expectancy is just 48 years, 11% of children die before they are five and 14% of young adults carry HIV/Aids. Although 87% of children are enrolled in primary school, very few attend secondary school (unlike primary school, secondary school education is not free). Girls in rural areas are particularly affected: not only are schools few and far between, but girls are also expected to get married rather than continue their education.
For years, Camfed has been addressing this issue by supporting girls’ education in Sub-Saharan Africa. Its latest initiative will provide bursaries for 1,920 girls to go to secondary school in six districts in Machinga. This is a rural province in south east Malawi, which has an above-average rate of HIV/Aids in young people and a literacy rate in women of just 33%.
Each bursary lasts for four years, giving girls the security and confidence that they will finish their education. But before selecting the beneficiaries, Camfed sets up a democratic and transparent grassroots forum which is led by their community. This means that everybody knows how the girls will be selected and can express their own opinions.
Once the girls have completed their schooling, Camfed trains them in business, finance, health and leadership. It then provides credit (via micro-finance) to help them start up their own business and thereby secure their own livelihoods.
Camfed beneficiaries have the opportunity to join Cama, a grassroots membership organisation. Cama promotes change and gives young educated women a collective voice to demonstrate the knowledge, economic independence and confidence that their education has given them.
Cama now has more than 7,000 members in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Ghana and Tanzania. By passing on the advantages of their life-changing education, these young women are creating a cycle of change and driving African development from the ground up.
In many cases, women whose education was supported by Camfed go on to pay for the education of a new generation of African children. For example, Sofronie met one former Camfed-assisted student who is now a lawyer and was supporting 22 children to go to school.
Camfed began in 1993 by putting 32 girls in rural Zimbabwe through school. Since then, a further 650,000 children from rural Ghana, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Zambia have benefited from Camfed’s programme. This includes almost 40,000 girls who have each received four years of bursary support.
Camfed is an award-winning charity that operates at the highest level to achieve its objectives. Its partners include the UN Girls’ Education Initiative, the World Economic Forum and the Clinton Global Initiative, among many others.
Sofronie is supporting Camfed’s four year programme in Malawi (2009-2013) with a total four year grant of £1,003,100. This funding will:
This is Sofronie’s second grant to Camfed, following an earlier grant of £250,000 to support a similar four year programme in Ghana, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Tanzania.