In 2006, our founders visited eSicabazini for candid discussions of an important but challenging issue - the low status, education, and life prospects of girls in the community. These difficult realities would not change easily or quickly, but school leaders agreed that limiting girls' education was ultimately detrimental not only to them but also to the economic and social progress of the whole community. Together, we took the first big step to address these challenges - creating a girls' scholarship program to reward high achievers and remove financial barriers to their education. A major goal was to create a pattern of success that would lift the aspirations of girls and begin changing traditional attitudes. With the crucial support of eSibonisweni Principal Jubilee Tembe, the idea of a program aimed specifically at promoting girls' education increasingly gained acceptance within the community.
Late primary school is a stage when family needs and pressures often end a girl's hopes for education in a region where girls' domestic labor has traditionally been valued more highly than their schooling. The tragedy is that many girls leave school just when the long-term benefits of their education begin to accelerate with each year. Thus, late primary school is a critical intervention point, when incentives can tip families' calculations in favor of allowing girls to remain in school. In an area where girls drop out of school in increasing numbers with each passing year and few graduate from high school, girls need all the support they can get to continue their education beyond primary school.
In 2011, the partnership that supported the GSP was expanded to include Kliptown Youth Program (KYP), an award-winning organization that provides a wide range of support to 500 children in the Soweto township outside Johannesburg. After KYP's founders and several female team members first visited the GSP, KYP Executive Director Thulani Madondo and other staff have continued regular mentoring visits and provide other crucial support, including guidance on the process of university applications and registration and monitoring the progress of those enrolled in university.