Funded by Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the “Reaching the Unreached through Open and Distance Learning” project, under the Commonwealth of Learning’s GIRLS Inspire initiative, aimed to reach women and girls who are prevented from attending school by barriers such as early marriage, cultural norms and distance from schools, in remote and disadvantaged communities of Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. It provided education and training in market-demanded skills and connected them to sustainable livelihood opportunities.
Tania Begum started her own tailoring business after completing a 16-week course through the project in Bangladesh. “Now I cover my own family expenses and started saving. I am confident and I make my own decisions. I want to send my daughter to medical school and I hope to cover her educational expenses”, she said.
The project, which ended in April 2017, adopted open and distance learning and technology-enabled learning methodologies to achieve both scale and speed, ultimately training over 25,000 women and girls. After undergoing training, over 6000 of the women and girls gained income-generating opportunities and internships.
The project engaged community members in a number of advocacy and awareness programmes on the harmful effects of child marriage and the benefits of sending girls to school, which contributed to its success. As a part of the project, partner organisations received support in areas including project management, technology-enabled learning, monitoring and evaluation and communication.
“Our vision was to create enabling conditions for sustainable livelihoods for women and girls,” said Ms Frances Ferreira, Senior Adviser: Women and Girls for the Commonwealth of Learning. “Over the past year, we have made great progress with our partners as we accompanied over 25,000 women and girls and their communities on a transformative journey. We are immensely grateful to the Australian government for its commitment to women’s and girls’ education and the investment made through this partnership.”