Narrative written by A2Empowerment board member and alumna, Vanelle Takou; Data collection and analysis by A2Empowerment board member, Ryan Mitchell
Girls’ education has been a preoccupation for anybody who believes that educating a girl child is the future of a whole nation. Historically, in many parts of the globe tremendous problems and vulnerabilities surround the environments of girls: systemic poverty, lack of family and community support, limited educational opportunities, lack of voice, early marriage, and adverse social attitudes.
These vulnerabilities can constrain girls and women economically and socially and may result in risky sexual practices that contribute to poor long-term reproductive and health outcomes. Due to these constraints, females may lack motivation, skills, and resources that would otherwise enhance their self-reliance and aspirations for the future.
However, things are changing in recent years.
In Cameroon, A2Empowerment scholarships have contributed to the happiness of many families since 2008. The establishment of A2Empowerment has been the light at the end of the tunnel in the lives of many Cameroonian girls, including 105 scholarship recipients during the 2021-2022 school year.
To improve our work, we conduct surveys every year to assess the academic process, academic problems, and situations of each student related to the scholarship program. In this article, we are going to present the most recent survey results from this past school year. Importantly, our data suggests that 67% of scholarship recipients would not be able to attend school without A2Empowerment scholarships.
It is a difficult task to combine academic and non-academic responsibilities. The scholarship enables students to make more space for studying and extracurricular activities, and avoid overwork, by lessening the financial burden for families so that scholarship recipients can avoid, or reduce, working outside of the home. It allows them to be just a student and a kid.
Our data supports the idea that the scholarship frees up time for students to be more focused on improving their academic status. Eighty percent of scholarship students are ranked in the top half of their class, including 28% performing in the top twenty percent of their respective classes. In addition, their involvement in extra activities support this idea. Over 80% of scholarship recipients have time for extracurricular activities, such as volunteering, science clubs, and sports activities. Along with the mentoring they receive during A2Empowerment monthly meetings, these activities help in building leadership skills and preparing them for professional life.
Overall, our data support the idea that scholarships reduce financial burdens for students, allowing them to remain in school, concentrate on their schoolwork, and perform well.