Tuesday, November 07, 2006

AED's : Ambassadors' Girls' Scholarship Program

The Washington Diplomat Newspaper published an article about The Ambassadors' Girls' Scholarship Program in its November 2006 edition, and I would like to spread the word that this program is in existence.

The article is titled Aid for African Girls and it discusses how this "U.S. Scholarship Program Helps Thousands in Sub-Saharan Africa."

The program is conducted by the
Academy for Educational Development (AED) in Washington, D.C.. AED is a nonprofit that is (among other things) distributing 87,000 scholarships to academically motivated school-age girls in sub-Saharan Africa.

May Rihani is the senior vice president of AED and heads up their Ambassadors' Girls' Scholarship Program. Rihani is also the director of the AED Center for Gender Equity. The scholarships are funded by a presidential initiative that is funded by theU.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) . This is part of a larger USAID effort to provide 550,000 scholarships to African girls in primary and secondary schools by 2010. AED won the USAID contract through a competitive bidding process.

Rihani says that AED works with local NGOs to provide not only the scholarships but to provide additional resources as well.

According to the article appearing in The Washington Diplomat, written by Carolyn Cosmos:

"The AED program has given 57,000 scholarships to school-age girls in 15 countries over the last two years, with a goal of reaching the 87,000 total by 2008. In addition to providing school fees, books and uniforms, Ambassadors' scholarships are grounded in community support and include mentoring. Periodic meetings, sometimes weekly, take place with a woman selected for the job by a local committee. A mentor is "neither a mother nor a teacher but a little bit of both," Rihani explained. Mentors offer academic and general assistance, monitor the girls' progress, and serve as role models.
AED, which is headed by Stephen F. Moseley (see June 2006 issue of The Washington Diplomat), is currently partnering with local support providers in Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Niger, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Somalia and Sudan."

The age range of the girls is chosen by an AED selection committee is between 8 and 16. The committee gives priority to orphans living with extended families or in an orphanage and to those affected by HIV/AIDS.

According to Rihani, the primary goal of each program is to "eliminate schooling's economic burden on parents." But AED likes to call the programs "Scholarship Plus" because there are additional benefits that are derived from the program - such as encouraging the girls to help educate their families about health issues.

The AED web site states:

"The Ambassadors' Girls Scholarship Program (AGSP) is a key component of the U.S. President's Africa Education Initiative (AEI). It aims to address the constraints to girls' participation, retention and achievement at school. These include financial and opportunity costs, socio-cultural factors such as early marriage, as well as the devastating impact of HIV/AIDS on girls and their families. AGSP provides comprehensive support for girls' education in the form of: scholarships at the primary level, and sometimes at the secondary level; mentoring; parent and community awareness programs to promote and support girls' education; and HIV/AIDS awareness activities to prevent and mitigate the spread of HIV/AIDS. Scholarships are intended to ensure access to educational opportunities, and are geared to needs within each country"

Visit both the Washington Diplomat article on The Ambassadors' Girls Scholarship Program , as well as the AED web site itself.

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