The GinCo Program
Fundamental principle: empowerment
At the beginning of puberty (approximately the 6th year of school), girls often drop out of school. The reasons for this include financial hardship, lack of menstrual hygiene products, early pregnancy, forced marriage, and prostitution. Due to limited financial resources, at the beginning GinCo was only able to support 10 girls to attend the 8th year exclusively, offering an incentive for completing the school-leaving exams.
At the annual meetings, the teams and teachers reported that a single school year, during which there are many exams, is too short a time for development processes at different levels. In particular, group work with the girls and their mothers to build self-esteem requires a longer period of time to achieve stable, sustainable effects. Gradually, GinCo was able to extend the funding period to three years.
Selection of the Girls
The GinCo girls usually get suggested by the teachers. In the last year it appeared to be reasonable to limit the number of the schools to two or three neighboring schools. That facilitates the cooperation and promotes the formation of groups and mutual support of the GinCo girls.
The main selection criterion is poverty. Lots of families are so poor that they can’t prepare daily meals. The children of these families come hungry to school and therefore have problems to concentrate. Often there are lacks of money and clothes. If the children get a school uniform, it is often the only garment they wear day and night.
Additional selection criteria are motivation and power of endurance.
The suggested girls write an application that also gets forwarded to GinCo Germany. However, final decisions are respectively made on location. If a girl leaves the program in the middle of the school year, another girl takes her place.
Every team gets provided with a basic amount to finance uniforms, teach- and learning materials, examination fees and a warm meal. Furthermore, the teams decide within the basic amount about special expenses such as care products, clothes and blankets, depending on the region.
Additionally the teams receive a separate amount for the menstruation hygiene.
Each girl gets a solar lamp in the beginning of the 6th school year to be able to do homework in the evening, because the cabins of the girls don’t provide electricity and it gets dark at 7 pm. (Due to the proximity to domestic fires, eye ignitions often occur.)
After finishing the basic education (8th grade) all girls receive solid shoes in attendance of their parents or relatives. Lots of girls either don’t own any shoes or just flip-flops; but for further school attendance or training they need solid footwear.
Fundamental in working with girls is the creation of self-confidence about the own worth and the own dignity. Due to longstanding suppression, girls and also women often don’t know about their right for physical integrity and claim for protection against exploitation and sexual violence. These rights are explicitly defined in the UN children rights convention and get discussed in the girl groups.
In the groups the girls get encouraged to talk about their own worries, to express their needs and desires and to support each other. They practice to express themselves, to speak up in the group and to represent the own position. Simultaneously it gets emphasized that they learn how to listen to others and to find solutions together. That creates the requirements for the girls to understand democratic processes and to participate in them.
Not just the self-confidence of the girls is supposed to be strengthened, but also their experience of self-effectiveness, what means that they discover design possibilities for their lives and that they feel that they can cause something with their actions.
Collective meetings between the mothers and daughters should improve the mutual comprehension and enable an approximation.
As important as the work with the girl groups is the involvement of the mothers. Many women didn’t graduate from school, can’t read or write, don’t know the English language and therefore can participate in social life only in a limited way. To support the education of their daughters and for example to be able to forgo the help in the household, it is necessary for them to deal with their own, sorrowful history in the group.
In the groups they have the possibility to learn (health, sexuality, but also reading and writing) and therefore develop to mentors that support the girls in school. They make home visits if girls don’t show up at schools and are contact persons for personal problems. Due to the presence of the mothers in school the percentage of early pregnancies and rapes as well as early school aborts significantly decreased.
All GinCo teams work voluntary. Compensations are for the girl groups, mentor trainings and their implementation and – in the beginning- for the team coordination.
In order to promote communication between the teams and to keep in contact with GinCo Germany, GinCo needs a Kenyan coordinator
Through regular meetings and work groups, for which all teams travelled to Nairobi, the contact among each other got more intense. At these meetings all important topics get discussed and the further development of GinCo gets planned together. Therefore the teams are well cross-linked now and support each other.
The Kenyan GinCo teams consist of very differently qualified participants. There are for example teachers, social workers or accountants.
In 2017, an in-house training course on the subject of "girl groups" and mentoring took place.
The work considering the concept of “empowerment“ leaded to a further development of creativity and motivation within the teams.
Expansion of the girl groups
The goal is to implement regular girl groups in all regions, following a good elaborated, preferably standardized program. The implementation of these groups should be assumed by a local team member who got selected, trained and certified for this work.
As important as the work with the girls is the involvement of the mothers. In regular meetings they have the possibility to deal with their own history and to acquire new knowledge (in the field of health, nutrition, sexuality, and alphabetization). The so trained mothers locally support the girls in school, what significantly increases the presence of GinCo in the schools.
Training of the group leaders
For the qualified implementation of girl groups and mentor trainings the employees have to be trained and continuously certified. Because the teams live and work far away from each other, also expanses for transportation, board and lodging accrue additionally to the training costs.
Expansion of the GinCo promotion to 3 years from 6th to 8th grade
Within the beginning of puberty (about 6th grade) girls often quit school. Reasons are a financial distress, missing means for menstruation hygiene, early pregnancies, forced marriage and prostitution. Furthermore, teams and teacher report that the period of a single school year, in that also lots of exams have to be taken, is too short for development processes on different levels. Especially the group work of the girls and mothers to strengthen their self-esteem, takes a longer period to achieve a stable, lasting effect. Therefore GinCo plans an expansion of the promotion period to three years. As soon as financial resources will be available, the triennial promotion can get started.
Vocational training – practical training after finishing the basic education
The Kenyan school system is set up in a way that young people, regardless of their skills, only consider the academic path as a goal. So far, practical jobs don’t really have a good reputation, that’s why parents as well as teachers only trust in the academic way. This leads to lots of early dropouts, criminality, prostitution and a very high unemployment. The government increasingly sees this problem; however, changes coming from above can’t be expected in a foreseeable period. Therefore it is important to start on a municipal level.
The little available practical training opportunities often don’t start until finishing the secondary school and cost a lot of money. The trainees don’t get paid and therefore still depend on their parents that normally can’t finance them anymore.
GinCo plans to make the Kenyan teams look together with cooperating schools for small factories/stores/businesses that are willed to train the GinCo girls for two years.
As soon as financial resources are available, GinCo will pay the girls a small “trainee compensation” to support their independency and to financially relieve the parents. Furthermore, we are looking for possibilities to also further educate the girls theoretically (for example through the cooperating schools).
Therefore GinCo will as well provide the required funds. Through these offers the practical training gets more attractive for girls and parents and the acceptance of the community will increase.