Written by: Graham Button (who also leads our monitoring and evaluation work.)
Photo of A2Empowerment students, courtesy of Florence Yousseu.
Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa and the US, A2Empowerment has continued to make a positive impact in the lives of Cameroonian girls. In the 2020-2021 school year, more than 100 Cameroonian girls were given scholarships and mentorship that helped them to continue their education. In fact, approximately 4/5 of the girls who A2Empowerment funded reported that they would not be able to attend school without a scholarship from A2Empowerment. A2Empowerment endeavors to monitor, evaluate and learn from the impact that the scholarship and mentoring has on each of the girls by working with the scholarship coordinators, ensuring that the program is working as intended and enabling A2Empowerment to make adjustments as necessary.
Many of the girls were able to improve their study habits because they received a scholarship from A2Empowerment. While most of the recipients still had expenses that were not covered by the scholarship, such as transportation, uniforms, or textbooks, 92% of scholarship recipients who responded to the question reported that they were able to either stop working or work fewer hours because they received the scholarship. Half of the girls reported that reduced economic responsibilities positively impacted their education. The scholarship recipients had more time to study, and more than 2/3 of scholarship recipients had time to be involved in extracurricular activities at school. A2Empowerment is using the data collected to adjust the scholarship amounts in order to cover more school-related expenses, such as textbooks, in the future.
Financial support was not the only reason for their academic progress this year – A2Empowerment does not just provide scholarships, but mentorship as well. Scholarship recipients are expected to attend monthly meetings where they receive training on life skills and the scholarship coordinators can monitor their academic progress. More than half of the girls reported that this monitoring and support by their scholarship coordinators helped them with their academic progress, and a third said that support from their fellow scholarship recipients made a positive impact.
While A2Empowerment cannot solve all of the challenges that the scholarship recipients have to deal with – for example, approximately 2/3 of recipients do not have access to electricity – the financial support and mentoring provided through the A2Empowerment Scholarship Program has made a tremendous difference in the lives of the scholarship recipients.