A five-day training of trainers workshop opened in Accra on Monday to introduce and deliberate on the new Ambassador Girls Scholarship Programme (AGSP) mentoring guide developed by the US Agency for International Development (USAID).
It is part of the Africa Education Initiative (AEI), which is aimed at providing material and moral support to girls from poor families, orphans and those affected by HIV/AIDS.
Participating in this regional workshop are AGSP implementing partners and mentor trainers from Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Liberia and the Gambia who would be expected to train mentors for the provision of enhanced support to scholars in their respective countries.
Speaking at the opening of the workshop, Miss Kadiatou Coulibaly, Director of AGSP, World Education, said the AGSP was being implemented in 12 West African countries and had offered 107,395 scholarships to 49,648 girls and 9,156 boys in 2,603 schools within five English speaking countries.
She said the scholarship package varied from country to country but generally include books, school supplies, shoes, uniforms, bag packs, payment of school fees, transportation and school meals.
"Scholarships have been an invaluable support to the scholars and their families. However, the mentoring component allowed scholars to take advantage of the mentors' support, which permitted them to remain and succeed in school. By strengthening NGO capacity, the present training session would allow them to keep providing the support necessary for children to succeed with or without AGSP."
Miss Coulibaly said the AGSP, which was initiated in 2004, and was being implemented in 39 countries across Africa was meant to contribute to gender equity for the benefit of girls.
However, since 2007 boys have benefited from the programme because they were facing similar adverse conditions as target girls beneficiaries.
She said two other components of beneficiaries are teacher training, the development of books and other learning materials.
"Two important elements, HIV/AIDS prevention and mitigation as well as the involvement of communities of parents in the education systems have been cross cutting schemes in all three components of the AEI.
“Under the scholarship programme, this has been accomplished through parent, community and teacher involvement in key activities such as the selection of scholarship recipients and the development and implementation of mentoring activities."
The objective of AEI-AGSP is to provide 550,000 scholarships to girls and boys who would otherwise not be in the school, while providing them support through the mentoring programme.
In Ghana, AGSP is implemented in the Northern, Upper East and Eastern Regions through four Non-Governmental Organizations. So far 11,150 scholarships have been awarded to girls over five years and 1,200 to boys over two years.