The Open University’s global development project, SAGE – Supporting Adolescent Girls’ Education – was recently visited by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) who fund the project through UKAid. The initiative was praised for its positive impact on women and girls in Zimbabwe.
SAGE, which began in 2018, seeks to address the barriers in accessing education faced by girls in Zimbabwe by offering an accelerated non-formal literacy and numeracy skills programme for over 13,200 marginalised adolescent girls (aged 10-19). These girls have either never been to or have dropped out of school, and include girls with disabilities, young mothers, married girls, girls from the Apostolic community, girls from minority ethnic communities, and girls engaged in labour.
Following her visit to a learning hub in Harare, Alicia Herbert OBE (pictured above), FCDO Director of Education, Gender and Equality, remarked:
“One of the most difficult things in my job is to talk to a girl who has never been to school. It shows a potential that has been snapped away. But the most rewarding thing about my job is talking to girls who are back in school and starting to build their lives. That’s what we saw today.”
As well as focusing on girls’ educational development, the programme supports the development of girls’ self-efficacy and life skills through Plan International’s Champions of Girls’ Education programme.
To date, over 3500 girls and young women have graduated from SAGE, and transitioned onto clear pathways to further training, income generation, or are being supported to enter into education.
Project lead Liz Chamberlain, Professor of Primary Education in the OU’s Faculty of WELS, commented:
“The SAGE OU team are delighted with the positive feedback from the recent FCDO visit. It is testament to the collaborative work across the SAGE consortium that is enabling girls and young women to access learning and succeed.”
Ben Cattermoul, Team Leader of Human Development and Inclusion at FCDO Zimbabwe, added:
“Inspiration is the right word to describe how you are working with girls under difficult circumstances. Fantastic programme to see, and an investment in girls’ education.”
The learnings from the SAGE project are contributing an evidence-base around Non-Formal Education (NFE) for Zimbabwe’s Education Sector Strategic Plan and have directly contributed to the Plan International Zimbabwe Country Strategy. In addition, the SAGE blended teaching and learning model has formed part of Zimbabwe’s Covid-19 Catch-Up strategy plan.
Image features Alicia Herbert OBE, FCDO Director of Education, Gender and Equality and Loyce Nhandara, SAGE District Coordinator