Moreover, Batonga will offer more than just school fees, supplies, uniforms, and shoes. It will also provide mentoring activities that foster self-esteem among the girls and provides them with valuable life skills. Remedial classes will also be offered so that students receive one-on-one attention from qualified teachers and mentors.
Additional support for the cohort of girls will be provided in the following forms:
Sanitary Pads: When girls reach adolescence, menstruation can become a major barrier to attendance and enrollment. Sanitary pads help eliminate this obstacle to education.
Bicycles: Bicycles help ease the burden and dangers associated with travel distance and are also an incentive to perform well in school.
Mosquito Nets: Malaria is endemic in all areas of Benin, accounting for 40% of hospitalizations in the country. Preventing illness due to malaria in the girls lowers their absence rate during the school year.
Access to Clean Water and Bathrooms Facilities at Schools: Batonga will ensure that a lack of clean drinking water and the absence of bathroom facilities are not additional obstacles when it comes to adolescent girls attending school. In partnership with Africare and the African Well Fund, Batonga will work to maintain latrines, water wells, and hand-washing stations at four schools in Benin and install new water wells and latrines at an additional 5 schools throughout the country, reaching 6,426 total students.
In Summer 2013, Batonga will work with existing partners in Benin, including USAID, local NGO partners, World Education, local communities, schools and education ministry offices, to identify a cohort of promising young girls to receive educational support. Working with implementation partners including ACDD (northern Benin), GAJES (southern Benin), and World Education, Batonga will support 400 girls with school fees, supplies, uniforms, shoes, and sanitary pads and will also distribute in-kind support to their families for the entirety of their secondary studies.
Between 2013 and 2015, Batonga will partner with Africare and the African Well Fund to build new water wells and latrines in five schools in the Nikki region of the country and reaching 6,426 total students.
Over this same period, mentoring activities, information on HIV/AIDS prevention, and remedial classes will be an ongoing activity of the initiative.
Finally, Batonga will work closely with its partners to monitor and evaluate the educational progress of all students throughout the life of the commitment.
Today, more girls are graduating from elementary school in Africa than ever before, but prejudice, poverty, travel distance and cultural traditions keep fewer than twenty-seven percent of girls in Benin from enrolling in secondary school and fewer than two percent from enrolling in tertiary education (World Bank Gender Statistics, Benin). Ever fewer girls who enroll in secondary and higher education actually reach completion. More than ever, there is an urgent need - and tremendous opportunity - to leverage the recent progress in girls' primary education graduation rates and redirect the course of girls' lives through higher education. Primary education is simply not enough for Africa's girls.
The Batonga Foundation is committed to providing vulnerable and marginalized girls in Africa with the opportunity to overcome financial, cultural, conflict and health-related obstacles to further their secondary school and higher education. Batonga takes a holistic approach to educational support and aims to equip adolescent girls with the skills, tools and guidance they need to complete their education. As an African-lead NGO, Batonga aims to cultivate African leadership and supports the expansion of local NGO capacity, while calling on world leaders and funders to agree that primary education is only the start for Africa's promising next generation of girls and women.
Batonga seeks additional partners in our commitment who can help us innovate, evaluate and provide funding or partnership to scale these programs that significantly improve the lives and opportunities for adolescent girls in Benin and across Africa. Batonga hopes to engage additional financial, programmatic and service delivery partners to add to the comprehensive programming and support for our cohort of girls, empowering them to complete secondary school and even pursue tertiary education - helping Africa's girls and women to rightfully take their place as leaders.
Batonga offers best practice information in the areas of supporting enrollment, retention, completion and quality outcomes in secondary and higher education for adolescent girls in Africa. Additionally, Batonga's founder, Angelique Kidjo, as a Grammy Award-winning West African singer, songwriter and UNICEF International Goodwill Ambassador, brings the spotlight of the international stage to call for advocacy on and funding for girls education. She has experienced firsthand how educating one girl initiates a positive force for change. Angelique's personal experience, as a girl educated in her home country of Benin, gave rise to her passion and commitment to leverage her visibility to advocate for girls' education across Africa and internationally. Angelique brings a unique, African perspective and credible voice to the issue of girls' education and regularly engages Ministries of Education, government and private sector leaders and other high-level officials globally. She will contribute substantial efforts to this commitment and issue, as she continues to spend considerable time advocating for girls' education as well as visiting programs across Africa.