12 Nov 2019 Ntsoelemolodi Primary School Implements First Strong Girls Club with Positive Results
This September, I had the privilege of visiting one of our newer partner schools, Ntsoelemolodi Primary School. Ntsoelemolodi is our first school to implement our Strong Girls Club. Madame Nomsa Thibela is the school’s principal, life skills teacher, and she is the club’s facilitator. The school is located in Shatale, Bushbuckridge which is a deeply rural area in the mountains. Shatale is an impoverished community with a largely patriarchal culture, commonly discouraging girls from pursuing education. Madame Thibela fears the safety and future of her female students as gender based violence is extremely common in the area, and pressures to marry young and become pregnant as adolescents is felt by almost all of her students. With this club we hope to change the attitudes of not only young female students, but of the community as a whole.
During my visit, we had a meeting with community leaders and school officials to discuss the importance of this club. It was pivotal to get this acceptance and support from community leaders to not only protect this program but to protect these young women from anyone who may have conflict with educating girls. We look to include the community in this program so that discussions of gender equality and women’s rights can be wide spreading, changing the views and opinions throughout a traditionally patriarchal village.
Ntsoelemolodi’s girls’ club meets once a week for an hour during the school day. There are 26 girls currently in fourth grade, enrolled in the club. The club focuses on topics that are often missing from traditional school curriculum such as setting S.M.A.R.T goals, recognizing rights in relationships and at home, taking ownership of their bodies and their reproductive rights, and taking leadership in school and the community. Fun activities help teach these lessons in a more approachable way and also help to build a sense of community among the girls in the club. Anonymous surveys completed during each meeting, helps us to better understand the girls’ reactions to the lessons and track the progress of the club. Since the start of the club in September, girls have already displayed a change in attitude during the school day. Madame Thibela has found the girls to be more confident, more open minded about their futures, and the girls have strengthened their friendships, supporting one another and their goals.
“When girls acquire life skills and feel supported by their peers and caring adults. They become confident enough to take charge of their lives and put a stop to abuse and violence.”
Our current Strong Girls Strong Women campaign is helping us to raise funds for club resources and to expand our support for girls to all our partner schools. A lack of sanitation facilities and menstrual health resources leave girls uncomfortable and embarrassed during the school day. A Spring of Hope would like to strengthen our girls’ club by providing resources for girls such as period kits which contain reusable cloth pads, extra pairs of underwear, and soap. Our goal is to have these kits at all of our partner schools, normalizing periods, and teaching girls that there is no need to be embarrassed or ashamed of menstruating.
Help us to continue growing our program and providing girls with the resources they need to stay in school, achieve their goals, and most importantly be kids.