Girls Education


More than half of all enrolled students in Northern Uganda fail to complete their primary school education, mostly due to poverty that leaves families unable to pay school fees.

Girls face additional cultural barriers that make them far more likely than boys to attend school irregularly or drop out. These include parental expectations that they stay home to help out with chores, pressure to ease family financial burdens by marrying early, unwanted pregnancies, and stigma about menstruation.

Protracted school closures caused by COVID-19 were exponentially harder on girls, leading to an alarming rise in early marriages and pregnancies, a trend district officials are hopeful to change with support from AWR.

Female Youth Literacy Rate in Northern Uganda
30% less
than their male counterparts
Women in Northern Uganda who have received some secondary education
Percentage of women in northern Uganda report being married before the age of 18


Our program was started and continues to grow because of local demand - from women in the program, from schools, and from government officials who all are asking for support with girls education.

AWR’s Girls Education program provides girls with the material, academic, and emotional support they need to succeed in primary school and continue on to secondary school. Working together with parents, caretakers, schools and government officials, we ensure success through individualized academic attention, mentorship, and ongoing parental and community dialogue.

Demand for girls education is high. AWR aspires to have girls education programming in each community where we work. We know that education creates the conditions for success and helps to permanently break the cycle of generational poverty.

Program Model

Our holistic, high-touch mentor model seeks to create lasting changes to the attitudes, norms and beliefs that keep girls from enrolling and succeeding in school. It begins in Grade 4, when girls are most likely to drop out. The model includes home visits, community dialogue, academic mentorship, materials and supplies, extracurricular and field trip opportunities, and future monetary support to families through tree-planting that will help them pay for secondary school once a girl becomes of age.

Academic Mentorship
AWR mentors spend four days a week in overcrowded, understaffed classrooms providing additional tutoring and homework support. A fifth day is spent paying home visits to those who have been absent or falling behind.
Home Visits
Mentors meet with each participating family at least once a month to update them on their daughter’s progress. When schools are closed due to COVID-19, mentors distribute AWR at-home learning materials and call regularly on students at home to keep them academically on track. Our mentors are typically women and become important role models for the girls.
Community Dialogue
AWR mentors facilitate ongoing group community dialogue sessions with local parents to identify and discuss the issues holding girls back at school - conversations include topics like enrollment, attendance, school fees, and the importance of education.
Textbooks and Supplies
We provide program participants with textbooks and materials they need to succeed in under-resourced schools that most often have 10 or more children sharing a book and are missing basic supplies such as chalk and pencils.
Feminine Hygiene Products
We give each girl a kit of reusable sanitary pads, underwear and soap, allowing them to continue attending class with confidence no matter the time of month.
Field Trips
Most participating students live in rural areas and have never had a chance to see anything beyond their immediate surroundings — or even been on a bus. AWR takes girls on trips like visits to a secondary school that help them visualize their future as older students.
After-School Programs
AWR Mentors facilitate extracurriculars such as theater club, debate club, reading club, green club, sports, and more.


Girls enrolled at 17 schools
Graduation rate for primary schools in 2021
Books distributed
Reusable sanitary pad kits distributed since inception
Re-enrollment for girls following COVID-related school closures
Acholiland, Northern Uganda
Jaqueline, Head Woman teacher at Tegot Primary school.

Stories of Impact

"The mentors have made our work easier. They go for home visits. We don’t go unless it’s a critical issue. The mentors find problems before they become major obstacles. They are helping a lot and I truly appreciate the home visits… It also helps that all the mentors are from this area and not strangers. When they go out in the community people listen and trust them."

Jaqueline, Head Woman teacher at Tegot Primary School
"The mentors have made our work easier. They go for home visits. We don’t go unless it’s a critical issue. The mentors find problems before they become major obstacles. They are helping a lot and I truly appreciate the home visits… It also helps that all the mentors are from this area and not strangers. When they go out in the community people listen and trust them."
Janet, 14
Janet is a 7th grade student at Olel Primary School in Gulu District whose favorite subject is math. She wants to be a teacher when she grows up because of the teacher shortage at her school. “Through the AWR program, my English has improved a lot, and I have been able to go on school tours to new places I had never visited before.” Janet’s father Julius appreciates the parenting advice he’s been given by their AWR mentor. “I support my children better now. I bought them a solar light to read with at night, and I make sure we don’t overwork them in the garden so that they can study on their own in the evenings.”
Eunice, 16
Eunice is 16 year old and a student in 7th grade at Olel Primary School. During this time of Covid-19, she reviews study materials she received from AWR. “I am glad to be in the AWR program because I got study materials while other pupils in my community didn’t get any. We also get the mentors who come and spend time with us and encourage us to study and stay safe until schools are open again.” Beatrice, a mentor with AWR, visits Eunice on a regular basis at her home to make sure she has the support she needs to continue her studies.
Evelyne, Senior Woman Teacher
“I am the senior women teacher at the school. I've been here for ten years. We have seen a big difference with AWR’s Girls Education Program. We have very few dropouts. They (AWR) have been helping us with the textbooks and teaching. All the girls receive sanitary pads so they are not missing school any longer. The mentors from AWR are also providing academic support to students, especially the weaker ones. We have more students succeeding now.”
Franka, 15
Franka lost her father to the war and her mother to disease. She lives with her grandmother and her four siblings. Before joining the Girls Education program three years ago, she wasn’t doing well in school. Now, she gets academic support from her AWR mentor. Her favorite subject is math, and she wants to become a surgeon.
Kenneth Otim, Head Teacher
“I am the head teacher here at Paibona school. The most difficult thing is getting parents involved, and we are glad AWR is helping mobilize them. The [reusable menstrual] pads are important to make sure girls stay in school. Our attendance is improving. We would like to get a library. The students need to read more, but we don’t have any books.”
Julian, 15
"My favorite subject is science because I like to learn about the human body. I want to become a lawyer. The best thing about the Girls Education Program is the scholastic materials we receive and the menstrual pads. With the pads I don't miss school any more. Before, I used pieces of cloth and it was not very good. I want to continue to secondary school."
Brenda, 14
“My favorite subject is English. I want to be a nurse because I like science. When teachers are good at teaching, everything is interesting, even boring things. I've been in the Girls Education Program for two years. I have some challenges at home. Sometimes I'm not allowed to go to school because I have to do garden work. My parents think the practice exams are useless because they are not in the report card.”
Patrick, 46
“I have five children. One of my girls is in African Women Rising’s Girls' Education Program. Her name is Flavia. My wife passed away from AIDS. I am also positive. I have three children in school, the other two are still too young. I’m a farmer but it is hard to make ends meet. I get tired fast and I’m too weak to do some of the heavier work. We don't always have enough food to eat. Flavia is my hope for the future. She is very bright.”
Elvida, 80
“I take care of two grandchildren. They are from my daughter. She remarried and the new husband didn't want them. Isaac is 15 and in 6th grade. He gets support from the Girls Education Program. Winnie is 11 and in 3rd grade. Isaac works in the garden with me to help pay for school fees. Their father has a mental health problem and cannot support them. During this time of COVID both of my grandchildren have been getting support from the AWR mentors, that is how they have been able to continue their studies. The mentors provide them with study materials and come to our house to sit with them to solve problems. We are fortunate to have them.”
Agnes, 14
Third grade student Agnes is one of 750 program participants in Palabek Refugee Settlement Camp. “I love to study English. It’s my favorite subject. I left South Sudan because of the war and came here with my aunt. There are eleven children in my home. My aunt brought me here so I could get an education. Both my parents are dead. I'm alone.”
Mary, 12
“My favorite subject is science. I want to be a doctor because I want to be able to help other people. I came to the refugee camp in June 2018. I arrived alone but was able to find my sister who was already here. She is 15 and takes care of us. We came because it was not safe in South Sudan.”
Awich Primary School
There are 1,400 students at the Awich primary school in Palabek, with a total of 19 teachers and four classes for all of them. AWR supports the school with pens, pencils and exercise books, and has built a simple structure in which staff can prepare their lessons.
Give Hope
African Women Rising serves as a catalyst for thousands of women and girls in Northern Uganda, giving them the support they need to live their lives with dignity.