Keep girls learning: New guidance on tackling drop out and getting girls back to school

30 July 2020 by Rachel Booth, Gender Equality and Social Inclusion Manager, Girls’ Education Challenge

Maintaining girls’ attendance at school and preventing drop out is a vital part of the puzzle for the Girls’ Education Challenge (GEC). For highly marginalised girls, enrolment is only the start of what can be a very challenging journey to achieving an education. Throughout their lives, many obstacles and events can interrupt their schooling and educational attainment. COVID-19 has become another obstacle which has, unfortunately, amplified some of the challenges that already exist for girls supported by the GEC. 

To maintain attendance and prevent drop out, many GEC projects have already developed local-level community retention systems. These are unique networks of schools, ministries and communities who work together to respond to poor attendance and other relevant data to highlight if girls are at risk of drop out. 

These retention systems, set up before the outbreak of COVID-19, have proved to be an extremely valuable investment. The networks have shifted from being based around schools to centring directly on girls and households. This has been essential in maintaining contact with girls, assessing their wellbeing and continuing their learning. Importantly, it will also increase the likelihood that they will go back to schools and learning centres when it is safe to do so. 

Let Our Girls Succeed, a GEC project led by the Education Development Trust in Kenya, has been using its community health volunteers to support highly marginalised girls by delivering learning packs to girls, getting their work marked by teachers and delivering this feedback back to the household, along with providing wellbeing support. This has been invaluable in maintaining contact and continuing education for their girls. As schools start to reopen, we anticipate a considerable effort will be needed by these community networks to ensure girls transition back to school and, once again, these systems will be a vital part of accountability and tracking girls to ensure no one is left behind.

We have captured the learning from across the GEC on these systems before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is now being shared in a new Guidance Note: Inclusive approaches to drop out and retention in low-resource settings. It is intended for education actors working in Iow-income settings, including ministries of education, schools and NGOs. It gives examples of best practice and sets out a five-step system: 

  1. Data collection
  2. Data Analysis
  3. Follow up with girls and families
  4. Responses to drop out
  5. Assess quality of response 

We hope it will be a useful tool and welcome feedback and comments: