WHEPSA’s 10,000 Girls Educational Support Program is an outgrowth of girls concerned about their level of their education, their abilities to pass government education exams, and their potential to become contributors to their community and to augment the national economy.
10,000 Girls Educational Support Program
WHEPSA was started by Viola M. Vaughn who has a doctorate in education from Columbia University after working in developing countries on education and health issues affecting women and girls. She is supported by highly qualified technical staff, teachers, community workers and volunteers from universities in the US. The Board of Directors is international representing retired officials from accounting, the UN and banking in Senegal, professors in mechanical engineering and physics at Suffolk University, one of the first students who completed her education and training under the Education Support Program, US university students who volunteered to work with the girls and returned to complete their degrees, teachers from the community, a designer and a pediatrician based in the US.
The organizing principles of 10,000 Girls are:
1. No matter what their performance in the school system, every girl is able to learn and can assimilate essential knowledge.
2. Every girl who has the opportunity to be trained with basic or even advanced knowledge is able to become an active, contributing member of the economy, to their families and to the society.
3. Establish a gender responsive dialogue with participant girls, their parents, teachers, community, departmental and regional policy makers, to develop guidelines and insertion of a gender responsive educational environment in the region of Kaolack.
4. Continue the training of Adolescent Reproductive Health peer educators with the participant girls and assure their dispersion of IEC activities throughout the region.
WHEPSA identifies four types of girls and directly addresses their educational inconveniences:
1) Girls who are failing in primary school, ages 10 to 16 and considered at risk. These girls are eligible to go to After School Programs.
2) Girls who have been eliminated by the public school system, ages 16 to 26 are eligible for the Entrepreneurial Program.
3) Girls who have never been to school and who need basic literacy, ages 16 to 26 years and who are also destined for the Entrepreneurial Program.
4) Younger girls, 7 to 10 years old, who have not failed but who are at risk to fail.
WHEPSA’s Girls Educational Support Program began in June of 2001 in Kaolack, with four girls and expanded to twenty within two weeks. The project began when one girl came to the home of the Executive Director and asked to be educated. After several times being turned away the Director finally agreed to help the child. The child was a low performer and was at the point of being “eliminated” by the system because of her failure to pass her class. Additionally her parents considered their daughter not capable of learning and thought that she should be kept home from school. When the Director gave in and agreed to help this girl, she brought along three others just like her. These four girls aged 10,11 and twelve who were not doing well in school and disappointed by their end of year results.They simply stated that they held 37th , 34th , 36th and 42th position in a class of 57 students. They wanted to do better. They wanted WHEPSA to assist them. Even though girl’s education was not then a priority goal of WHEPSA’s Women’s Health Education and Development Program, the organization could not neglect this direct appeal.
Women’s Health Education and Prevention Strategies Alliance (WHEPSA) is an NGO created in Dakar on the 14 January 1999. WHEPSA developed a program for women to:
■address the development of women and her family
■ promote general health awareness, reproductive health, and nutritional health
■ assisted the economic emergence
■ promoted the education of girls
■ assures the continued dialogue between women and their community
The Women’s Health Education Prevention Strategies Alliance (WHEPSA) 10,000 GIRLS Educational Support Program is an outgrowth of girls concerned about their level of their education, their abilities to pass government education exams, and their potential to become contributors to their community and to augment the national economy.