DREAMS Innovation Challenge: Swaziland
While Swaziland has a high primary school enrollment rate for girls, lower secondary school enrollment for girls falls to 67% and further drops to a mere 47% enrollment for upper secondary school. Parallel statistics indicate that this decline in enrollment is due to the fact of 22.1% of adolescent girls give birth before the age of 18 years, greatly contributing to the numbers of girls who drop out of school.
In an effort to address the specific challenges faced by pregnant adolescents and teen mothers in this context, the Bantwana DREAMS Innovation Challenge program in Swaziland will strengthen teachers’ capacity to provide first level support to girls at risk of dropping out, while increasing students’ knowledge and skills to prevent their peers from dropping out. These efforts will be complemented by community level sensitization on the need to address accepted attitudes and perceptions that force pregnant teens and young mothers to drop out of school and promote a more supportive and inclusive response to these adolescent girls and young women.
Bantwana and partners in Swaziland are currently focusing on promoting girls’ return to and retention in school by rolling out an integrated Out of School Study Group model incorporating life skills training, early childhood stimulation, income generation skills, and mentorship for out-of-school adolescent girls. The DREAMS Innovation Challenge program will set up 36 Protect our Youth Clubs to engage adolescent boys and girls in the importance of girls’ education.