Every day, millions of children around the world don’t go to school. There are many barriers that keep them from learning in the classroom.

Parents and grandparents often don’t send their children to school because it’s too expensive. Covering the cost for school supplies, textbooks, uniforms and transportation can be a heavy burden for families struggling to make ends meet. And for many children around the world, walking to school takes several hours each direction.

Families remain caught in a cycle of poverty that goes on for generations and education simply isn’t a priority. More than 132 million children are out of school and at least 250 million children who should have reached grade 4 cannot read or write.

When young boys and girls are given the opportunity to receive an education, they are more likely to improve their own lives and their families’.

Stanley Jack, a 12-year-old boy from Danken village in Balaka, Malawi, dropped out of school. His grandmother, Jacqueline, kept him at home to help cover household chores.

Project Concern International’s USAID-funded food security project in Malawi called Njira – Pathways to Sustainable Food Security, includes multiple sectors, one of which integrates our Women Empowered (WE) methodology.

WE is our own model of savings-led microfinance, focusing equally on financial and social capital development. It builds on traditional Village Savings and Loan (VSL) methodologies by using savings groups as a platform to help members discuss social issues, as well as take action to help resolve common problems in their communities and households.

The Chitimbe WE group took a bold step to protect education and to fight against children dropping-out of school in Danken village. During group WE meetings, the group would discuss the children who weren’t in school in their community and then created an action plan to get them back in the classroom where they could learn and grow.

When all children—boys and girls—have access to education, it creates a ripple effect of opportunity that influences their families, communities and generations to come.

Members of Chitimbe met with Jaqueline and discussed the importance with her of sending Stanley Jack to school, both for the benefit of the child and the community.

After speaking with the WE group, Jaqueline visited Mvumu Junior Primary School and immediately enrolled Stanley jack back into school.

After hearing about the WE group initiatives and objectives, Jacqueline also decided to join Chitimbe as a member to participate in saving money, obtaining loans and to also engage in social issues affecting her household and the overall community.

Jacqueline said, “I have seen that this is a good way of involving us to address problems that are affecting us.”

Story by: Jennie Vader, Associate Technical Assistant, Women Empowered, PCI