One-line solution summary:
A platform that provides video-based curriculum learning courses for school-going girls while developing mentoring relationships with female mentors.
Which Challenge does your solution most closely address?Equitable Classrooms: How can all young learners have access to quality, safe, and equitable learning environments?
Pitch your solution.
Girls-4-Girls is working to increase the number of girls and young women participating in formal and informal learning and training which is both a technological and social challenge.
Access to learning resources and social support systems are some of the biggest deterrents for girls working towards achieving their education goals. In Kenya, 7.3 of the 11 million students under 18 are girls with 5.2 million in lower-income communities and currently home due to COVID-19. Globally, girls in a similar position are 130 million.
A majority of girls find themselves without learning materials but also lack the social support that peer groups of a similar mindset provide when in any progressive environment. A big part of the problem is the fragmentation of our living spaces and the high density of low-income communities. Girls find it difficult to identify like-minded girls that can advance their learning endeavors.
By providing a virtual learning environment with education resources and then creating virtual learning groups that achieve accolades and provide incentives for group-centric progress, Girls-4-Girls will support girls and young women participating in formal and informal learning and training.
Our solution is aimed at S.D.G. 3,4,5 and 10
(Mention SDGs we are targetting.... 3,4,5,10)
In what city, town, or region is your solution team headquartered?Nairobi, Kenya
Our solution's stage of development:Prototype
Is this a new solution, an existing solution, or an adaptation of an existing solution?Adaptation of an existing solution
How does your solution incorporate research?
Group mentoring, in which multiple youth form relationships with one or more adults, has undergone extensive evaluation, and existing research has demonstrated positive youth outcomes, particularly improvements in social skills and peer relationships. Group mentoring might be especially effective when it is combined with one-on-one mentoring, enabling youth to form relationships with both peers and non parent adults. Previous studies that compared combined group and one-on-one mentoring to one-on-one mentoring alone suggest that the group component uniquely facilitated new peer friendships.
In the Girls-4-Girls focus group test runs, teenage girls were assigned to female university student mentors. Participants met weekly in groups of eight to then mentor-mentee pairs over the course of the school year. Each group was led by a facilitator and followed a curriculum that addressed developmental issues relevant to adolescent girls. At the end of the experience, 43 girls participated in semi-structured interviews asking them about how they changed over the course of the year and what they thought caused those changes.
The analyses identified four major domains in which girls reported making changes as a result of participation in the Girls-4-Girls sample program. Those domains were academics, relational development, self-regulation, and knowing and being yourself. Relational and self-understanding were the most commonly reported themes and were also most frequently attributed to mentorship. Girls more often attributed relational development to the program’s group component but tended to report academic changes as a result of one-on-one mentoring. They attributed changes in self-regulation and self-understanding equally to a group and mentoring components.
All of this is in line with the National Coalition of Girls School report on the critical opportunity and value of mentoring girls here: https://www.ncgs.org/advocacy/...
Who is the Team Lead for your solution?
What makes your solution innovative?
As a digital learning platform for students and educators in Kenya, we have amassed 257,604 users in 18 months. Working with schools and communities more broadly has helped create an environment of trust and given Kytabu an entry point as an affordable alternative to current learning resources to educate children more affordably.
Girls-4-Girls, our girl-targeted program, deploys technology that is current but has not been brought together to create a single solution, specifically to empower girls in rural, peri-urban and urban low and middle-income communities with digital content hyperlocalized for them specifically. This social education and mentoring mobile app deploys geotagging and adaptive learning. Leveraging the opportunity to provide a virtual learning platform for peer-driven support in addition to the video learning content that caters to the entire education curriculum is a powerful tool for girls to create a personalized learning path.
10-18-year-olds that act as caregivers for the 2-12 year-olds in their households need to develop skills for autonomy and self-actualization that will promote a similar standard and capacity for the young ones they are looking after as they get older setting them all up for greater success in education and employment, reduced risk of substance use or other delinquent behavior, and more adaptive patterns of self-care that can support the maintenance of mental and physical health.
This breaks the cycle older generations and cultural norms against girls have had on previous generations and provides a break in the cycle of neglect and discrimination girls face in Kenya.
What is your theory of change?
Our theory of change is driven by the virtual relationships created on the learning platform. We believe that because of the virtual groups created on the platform and the singularity of the learning goals created, our users will be motivated to participate and keep using the platform to grow both their know-how and engage with the community.
If girls feel connected to other girls through mentoring opportunities and are supported, then they will become more actively involved as leaders in their communities or cultural groups. They will experience greater success and an enhanced sense of belonging. They will have a strong sense of identity, along with greater confidence and enhanced critical thinking skills. If girls take part in a girls program, then their critical thinking skills and feelings of connectedness are strengthened and positively impacted.
In the short term, digital support groups for girls taking care of their siblings at home implemented in collaboration with educational support courses will both increase their access to needed learning opportunities and help young women not feel trapped by the gender roles assigned to them by seeing women that have broken from the norm as mentors.
In the intermediate-term, keeping up with school requirements through the Girls-4-Girls platform combined with a supportive mentoring relationship will promote a positive outlook for the girls taking care of their younger siblings more broadly. Improvements in terms of school/academic functioning, well-being, prosocial behavior, and building resilience to stress will enhance adaptive coping skills and reduce the demotivation young women face leading to mental health challenges or engaging in risk-taking behavior.
In the longer term, with 10-18 years olds being caregivers of the 2-10-year-olds in place of their elders, they will transfer the knowledge they have received from their mentoring support to the younger children.
Select the key characteristics of your target population.
In which countries do you currently operate?
In which countries do you plan to be operating within the next year?
What are your impact goals for the next year and the next five years, and how will you achieve them?
We currently serve 270,000 plus students on our platform with 56% being girls. 66% of our target learning group of school-going girls between 10-18 years are caregivers to their 2-12 siblings. Many of these girls are fully dependent on digital platforms to learn with their families not able to (or choosing not to) support their education due to COVID restrictions. This lack of participation in education puts the children in their care at risk of negligence as they try to study on their own.
By offering an affordable, digital, self-paced learning platform with mentorship and peer support groups, we can reach 450,000 girls in five years through Girls-4-Girls. This would directly affect the manner in which they take care of the 2-12-year-olds in their care.
We are currently impacting 151,000 girls on Kytabu monthly with learning content by working with schools to onboard students onto our platform. Our first impact goal is to have a more equitable distribution of boys and girls using our platform. Despite having more girls on the platform than boys, the ratio of boys to girls in school is 1:3 on average. We would like to have a 1:3 ratio on our platform.
Mentorship will also help break cultural norms to increase empowerment and active participation in economic and civic activities in their communities. We have set a target of 2 hours of mentorship content a week per girl. Once equipped to transform their own communities, they would transfer these norms to their 2-12 year-old siblings.
What barriers currently exist for you to accomplish your goals in the next year and in the next five years?
Kytabu is a learning platform for education and we have developed the tools we need to deploy digital content to students in Kenya successfully. The challenge remains in the content that has been predominantly western or European in nature.
Kytabu is creating its own digital content in partnership with educators at Kytabu's cost. These costs of production and storage are steep, and the more content we need, the higher the costs in the short term. With an increase in students, the content will pay itself off, but the high upfront cost is a challenge we face even with Girls-4-Girls. This is also visible in the proclivity of banks not to advance credit because girl's school fees are known to have a 37% failure rate compared to boys because girls drop out of school 9 times more than boys.
As we progress we know that devices that have been a challenge will reduce to be as more homes go digital with school closures. With a large mobile phone penetration (86%) and good coverage in Kenya (77%), the real challenge is the long-term partnership for free data from Telcos in Kenya. We currently have a data-free partnership for the next 9 months but hope to extend it by another 2-3 years.
Kytabu has developed learning platforms and has developed a prototype of the Girls-4-Girls platform and as we work to develop a scalable model, we need capital to build it.
How do you plan to overcome these barriers?
Partnerships: Create working partnerships with organizations that can provide technical or financial support for the Girls-4-Girls program. These include Amazon Web Services (they gave us $25,000 of free cloud credits), Telcos (we have a 9-month data-free agreement) and digital content creation partners like Youtube and local content creation companies. In the production space, we are working on partnerships with EdTech hub, RTI, Mastercard Foundation and DRK to grow our current pool of 1600 hours of learning content (funded by Matercard and DRK to a total of $90,000) to 12,000 hours.
Leveraging: Telcos are eager to show community support to gain market share among young people. Because we have 100 female influencers that are mentors in our Girls-4-Girls project, we intend to use the mentoring videos and current numbers of students on our platform to engage them in a long-term partnership.
Scale: The platform is our biggest need and we are working to create a story that would be appealing to funders and partners globally. We are working to reach our $460,000 goal and build the application for the Kenyan market with the intention of using this as a testing ground for scaling the product around east Africa before reaching Southern and Western Africa.