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Girl-Power and school success with mentoring

girls

Girls are often forced to finish their schooling early in order to get married at a young age

March 2011: According to local tradition, the future and dignity of a girl in Cameroon are secured only in her marital home. Girls are advised to marry at a young age and consequently forced to finish their schooling early. Thanks to Plan’s Girls Ambassadors Scholarship Programme, girls’ rights to education are better recognized.

Salamatu*, an 18-year-old girl, was forced to marry against her personal will and ambitions to achieve a university education. Like many other of her peers, the girl decided to escape the forced marriage and ran away. Salamatu was lucky enough to meet student mentors from Plan’s Girls Ambassador project, who persuaded her parents to allow her to complete her school.

The project educates parents and their communities with workshops and debates organized by student mentors. Parents, relatives, students and primary school children listen to the girls’ information on the importance of education and discuss with others about school problems and other issues of concern.

“I started mentoring in 2005. At first I doubted this will change the mentality of the Mbororo girls and their parents who attached much importance to early marriage. After participating in trainings and refresher courses, I realized a gradual change in the views of parents and the youth. Now, girls are in universities and given chances for a career,” said Maimuna, a 16-year-old female mentor.

About the project

Funded by USAID the Girls Scholarship Programme started in December 2004 with MBOSCUDA (Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association) organization aiming at empowering Mbororo women to ameliorate their standards of living in the North West Region of Cameroon.

Working throughout Cameroon, project provides scholarships and mentoring support to primary and secondary school girls and pays particular attention to regions with lower enrollment rates and to most marginalized groups, such as young, married girls deprived of the right to education.

Plan supports and works, as part of the project, particularly with two minority groups- the Fulani and Baka girls in the East Region and in the North West Region- providing valuable oversight and cost-sharing through workshops and other supporting activities.

The project has contributed to a perceivable drop in pregnancy and marriage cases. Since 2004, there was only one case of pregnancy among participating girls and no reported cases of marriage. The project also changes behaviuors of mothers who often opposed their daughters’ education, now advocate to see their children (both females and males) going to school. Girls themselves feel more empowered and raise their voice against parental decisions to give them away in marriage- previously a taboo in the Mbororo society.

Read more about Plan's work in Cameroon.

* Name changed for child protection reasons