Change Magazine September 2017 Issue - Page 38

who dramatically raised the living standards of her family, and served as a role model for girls in her community. This story pictures how girls from less developing countries are shun out of school even before the end of elementary school. It it is because of enscribed and “enshrined” mentalities that girls “pay more” when they are raised to attract and get married to well-off men. Authorities find it difficult to intervene concerning access to quality education because the whole environment (school, home, church,, and social gatherings) is firmly pervaded by those mentalities. As such, only NGOs which work at the grassroots level can successfully address that challenge. By digging into the daily difficulties that the role models went through in their search for quality education, NGOs are better equipped to develop and implement a model of empowerment for disadvantaged youths in general, and girls in particular. Moreover, it is far more effective and empowering when the role models themselves start the grassroots organizations. Such an exemple is that of Hawaou Adamou, who, after getting out of child marriage, went on to launch an NGO called Association des Femmes Haoussa pour le Développement (AFHADEV). The organization provides basic literacy activities to disadvantaged girls including financial literacy, self- development, and educational outreach. They also helps girls obtain grants from global stakeholders in order to start their own projects and become financially autonomous. Community role models need to develop social entreprises at the grassroots level, that will leverage access to quality education as a means to pave the way for university. A model of social startup I propose is that of a grassroots organization that creates grit boarding schools and summer academies. Grit is a concept developed by Angela Duckworth, an American psychologist. Through the grit scale, she and her colleagues measured the degree of interest in a subject/goal, the passion developed from it, and the perseverance shown in the pursuit and attainment of that goal. It led them to the following equation : talent x effort = skill; skill x effort = achievement. What the equation reveals to us is that, ultimately, even if conditions for quality education are put together, the girl will need to find an academic subject/goal that attracts her interest, then stick with it through sustained efforts, in order to achieve excellence and success. Dr. Duckworth’s research and progress in neuroscience have shown that even in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields, the brain can keep working hard to teach itself how to master the subjects. Grit boarding schools and summer academies will use their grants to develop curricula that help girls cultivate grit through the following long-term courses: self-development, emotional intelligence, financial literacy, vocational activities, grant writing, communication and analytical skills, and a high focus on STEM fields. The social startup will recruit girls for its grit schools by administering the test of the grit scale to students of primary schools selected for educational campaigns and outreach. Successful girls will enroll in grit schools from the last two years of elementary school to the last year of secondary school. The benefit of a grit boarding school is that it will cultivate a culture of grit from the outside in, while grit curricula will generate grit from the inside out. As a result, girls will emerge out of the grit boarding schools not only with quality education, but also better equipped to handle adversity, and with opportunities to reach out to the most prestigious universities, job positions, and startup creations. About the Author Carole Nyemeck is a student from Yaoundé in Cameroon. She has many volunteering and advocacy activities like being a Commonwealth correspondent, writing development articles on the Commonwealth Youth journal, as a Global Youth Ambassador promoting access to quality education in Cameroon, and as a Cameroon Leadership Academician for 2016. These experiences have all forged her interest in girls and women empowerment. 34 Change Magazine September 2017 www.changemag-diinsider.com www.changemag-diinsider.com Change Magazine September 2017 35