CAMFED, the Campaign for Female Education, supports girls in sub-Saharan Africa to go to school, succeed, and then step up as leaders and change makers in their communities. In Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe, CAMFED’s work is supported by the UK Aid-funded Girls’ Education Challenge (GEC), the world’s largest global fund dedicated to girls’ education, supporting up to 1.5 million marginalised girls with access to education and learning across 17 countries.
CAMFED is implementing measures to support girls to go to school, promote their welfare and improve their learning – both academic and by delivering broader life skills through an innovative, context-sensitive curriculum developed with young people in Africa. Crucial to this is the role of Learner Guides.
Learner Guides are young women in the CAMFED Association, CAMA. These young women, supported in their education by CAMFED, were once amongst the most marginalised. They bring their lived experience of the barriers to girls’ education, and their expertise in breaking down those barriers, into local classrooms. Trained in delivering life and learning skills, as well as vital sexual and reproductive health information and psycho-social support, Learner Guides work with schools, communities and district governments to keep vulnerable children in school, help them to study hard, to build their confidence, to overcome their challenges, and to set goals for the future.
Beauty, a CAMA member and Learner Guide within the Girls’ Education Challenge (GEC) project in Zimbabwe, runs a climate-smart agribusiness. In addition to the training and access to finance offered through the GEC, she was connected to an FCDO-funded science collaboration, HarvestPlus, which has helped her grow nutrient-rich crops, including fortified beans and sweet potatoes, supporting good nutrition and maternal and infant health in her community.
Beauty, a Learner Guide. Courtesy of Cynthia Matonhodze/CAMFED.
Beauty’s garden went on to inspire CAMFED’s ‘Giving Girls in Africa a Space to Grow’ garden, which received a gold medal at this year’s Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Chelsea Flower Show. Learner Guides such as Beauty are a crucial part of CAMFEDs efforts to ensure the most marginalised girls can access an education. Through a powerful combination of leadership skills, confidence and activism instilled in her by the Learner Guide training and her own lived experience, Beauty is now transforming lives of girls in her local community.
The CAMFED Garden at the Eden Project. Courtosey of Tom Last/Eden Project.
The CAMFED garden opened in the Mediterranean Biome at the Eden Project on 18 October this year. Families will enjoy the classroom setting, vibrant colours, and see first-hand the crops grown by women like Beauty. Sinikiwe Makove, Head of Programmes at CAMFED Zimbabwe, said, “This innovative garden showcases the dividends an investment in girls’ education and women’s grassroots leadership can pay - improving community health, wealth and resilience to climate shocks.”