Pearson Partners with Camfed to Train and Certify 5,000 Learner Guides

Over the past three decades, enormous progress has been made toward achieving gender parity in education, yet according to the UNESCO Institute of Statistics, around the world 62 million girls are still out of school. In Africa and South Asia, boys are over 1.5 times more likely to complete secondary education, and 250 million adolescent girls around the world are currently living in poverty. Gender inequality in education access and completion stays with girls for the rest of their lives and translates to diminished health and social and economic outcomes into adulthood. The unschooled of today become the illiterate and unemployed of tomorrow. This is a deep injustice and a missed economic opportunity that has global consequences.

The Benefits of Girls’ Education
Each additional year of secondary school education increases a girl’s income by 15% to 25%, unlocking not just her economic potential but that of her family and community. An educated girl in Africa is three times less likely to get HIV/AIDS, earns 25% more income, and will reinvest 90% of her income into her family. She has a smaller, healthier family, and challenges gender-based violence and discrimination. 

Seizing the Opportunity
To help seize the opportunity, in 2013 Pearson joined international non-governmental organization Camfed, with support from the UK Department of International Development and relevant national Ministries of Education, to transform educational opportunities for girls from low-income communities in Zimbabwe and Tanzania. The partnership aims at improving the learning experience and outcomes for girls from rural and often marginalized areas through sustained collaboration between not-for-profit, private, and government players.

Building on Camfed’s 20 years’ experience in getting girls into school across Africa, and harnessing Pearson’s global expertise in delivering innovative learning solutions, the outcomes of the partnership have been to:

  1. Enable 60,744 vulnerable girls in Zimbabwe and Tanzania to enroll in secondary school.
  2. Empower over 400,000 girls and boys in 970 rural secondary schools to improve their educational experience and learning outcomes.
  3. Create new opportunities for young women graduates of Camfed’s programs in the poorest rural communities by training them to become Learner Guides.

Learner Guides are young female role models for girls still in school, who are uniquely qualified through their own experiences of overcoming the barriers to education imposed by poverty and marginalization. Working closely with both students and school leaders, Learner Guides identify and address particular problems girls face that impede their school attendance and learning, and deliver an innovative, complementary curriculum focusing on building individual qualities, health and well-being, the ‘My Better World’ program. The partnership is grounded
in the belief that girls and young women are the true experts when it comes to identifying and dismantling the barriers to their education and learning.

Developing Deeply Relevant Learning Resources with All Stakeholders
Leveraging one of the company’s core areas of expertise, Pearson’s specific role has been to support Camfed in developing learning resources for the ‘My Better World’ program that are relevant to young people’s experience, as well as to their future employability and success. To do this successfully, Pearson and Camfed engaged with young people and their communities, ensuring that the educational resources developed are deeply relevant to girls and boys, as well as gender-sensitive. The insights provided by the young graduates in Camfed’s CAMA alumnae network resulted in the creation of unique learning materials that reflect young people’s own experience, challenges, and context. The materials use engaging examples and exercises to help students deal with day-to-day issues, gain confidence, reach their goals, become a role model, earn a living, be healthy, be happy, and make the world a better place.

Working Toward Recognized Qualifications for Young Women Mentors
As part of its partnership with Camfed, Pearson has committed to developing a BTEC qualification framework to formally recognize the work of the Learner Guides. BTEC is one of the world’s most sought-after applied-learning qualifications, providing students with a clear line of sight into work and further education. Encouraging students to take responsibility for their own learning, BTEC recognizes, supports, and certifies the development of practical, interpersonal, and thinking skills essential for professional life. After witnessing the enormous impact of the partnership over the first two years, Pearson has extended its commitment to reach 5,000 Learner Guides in Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Ghana, and South Africa.

Pearson will develop a BTEC tailored to the unique needs of the Learner Guides, support their training and assessment, and certify 5,000 young women, providing them with a stepping stone into formal higher education, teacher training, and employment. These 5,000 Learner Guides will teach and mentor over 150,000 girls to help improve their attendance, retention, and learning at secondary school—creating a virtuous cycle of learning and empowerment.

The partnership is aligned with Pearson’s broader social impact strategy to work from the grassroots through to the national and international levels, investing in the improvement of education and advancing our commitment to learners worldwide.

To learn more about this and other social impact initiatives at Pearson, visit www.pearson.com or contact Gemma Terry at gemma.terry@pearson.com.

[Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in Co-Designing the Future: The Role of the Private Sector Partnering in Education]