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The Girls of Gashora | The Rwanda Girls Initative

The Story

While discussing the high quality of education available to their own children, Shal Foster and Soozi McGill were inspired to help children for whom education was not available. On a fact-finding trip to Africa, they were struck by the obstacles that girl students faced. “We met so many girls who desperately wanted to continue in their schooling, but the opportunities are limited today,” says Shal. “Even the girls who do continue to secondary school are burdened by household chores and safety concerns – so they tend to drop out at a higher rate than the boys.” Studying the relationship between education and economic development, they became confident in the critical role of secondary school for girls in breaking the cycle of poverty. They were determined to develop a different model for building educational infrastructure, focused on partnerships and connections to the local community. Soozi recalls that, “after our visit, we were convinced Rwanda was the ideal location for the first school. It is a beautiful country, brimming with potential and hope.” The Rwandan government also provides a backdrop of stability which increased their confidence that the outcome would be successful. The Rwanda Girls Initiative established the Gashora Girls Academy, an upper-secondary girls’ boarding school. The academy will serve as a replicable model for educating girls and accelerating development in Rwanda.