In Benin, women and girls have lower educational attainment and more barriers to education than men and boys. The literacy and research center will create a safe space for girls to pursue academic excellence and increase high performance rates amongst girls. As an education volunteer, I have had the opportunity to work with my school community to understand the needs that students have. The need to bridge the gap of educational attainment between girls and boys was expressed. The literacy and research center will provide girls with the tools needed to increase intellectual capacities and therefore increase gender equity in school. The literacy and research center will greatly supplement instructional practices and academic achievement by providing students with the tools needed to be independent, lifelong learners outside of the classroom. The literacy and research center project will help renovate and furnish a dilapidated school room so that it can serve as a literacy and research center for approximately 500 secondary school students in need, including young female learners. Funding for the project will be allocated towards: renovating damaged walls, new paint and a mural, literary and research resources, textbooks and workbooks, computers, benches and tables, bookshelves, research and technology training for students, teachers, and community members. The literacy and research center will not only inspire boys and girls to thrive academically, but socially and creatively as well. Additionally, the research and literacy center will help bridge the academic achievement gap between girls and boys.
The constituents of the local community have shown dedication to the project and have contributed considerably to the development of this project. So far the community has fundraised and created a team of stakeholders committed to contributing time and labor to the project. The community members have already cleaned and prepared the assigned room for the literacy center. Furthermore, this budget included the necessary 25% community contribution, showing our village's understanding of its role and commitment to this project. Moving forward, the Research and Literacy committee (which includes a co-ed team comprised of the school director, the dean, teachers, the parent/teacher association and artisans) are fully prepared to move this project forward by upholding gender-equitable practices and participating in regular trainings that reinforce gender-equitable practices in and outside of the school community. Additionally, women and girls will primarily lead and manage the library and assist in trainings.
The research and literacy center is aimed at keeping young female learners in school and increasing gender-equitable practices in the school community. This project will encourage girls to continue their education and pursue their aspirations. The research and literacy center will empower girls and women to be leaders in and outside of the school community. After the PCV's departure, the administration and project committee will hold annual, bi-annual and quarterly training to ensure that the research and literacy center is being used for its intended purpose. The training will include students, teachers, administration and the research and literacy committee. Additionally, data will be regularly collected to inform trainings. This will include surveys of gender-equitable practices and impact on girls’ education. There will be a designated librarian/manager- that will monitor the library on a daily basis. There will be more than one individual trained for this position, both young men and women, in case a librarian/manager leaves the establishment or is unable to fulfill assigned duties. Furthermore, young female students will receive trainings to help manage the library. This will be based on a rotating volunteer system that will give all female students the opportunity to work in the research and literacy center. The sustainability aspect of this project is providing the local community with the opportunity to continue the maintenance and use of the facility, as well as tracking the impact on the education of young female learners. This will be done by administering semestrial reports conducted by the project committee.