Girls & boys education movement
One of the most disturbing barriers to girls’ education is the violence and abuse they experience at home, in schools and their communities. Gender-based violence threatens to undermine international and national campaigns to get girls in school and keep them there so they can complete their education and leave with the skills needed to succeed in life. HIV infection, teenage pregnancy, substance abuse and other risky behaviours also have a negative impact on girls’ education.
Boys play a big role in what happens to girls. They themselves need support to become the best they can be, protect girls from harm and adopt safe and healthy lifestyles. Boys and girls need to get involved in issues that concern them and work together as partners in their own development.
The Girls Education Movement was first introduced in Uganda in 2001, followed by a launch in the South Africa in 2002, where is it known as the Girls and Boys Education Movement. In South Africa GEM/BEM clubs are organised in schools and run by learners, with support from the school management, the Department of Basic Education and UNICEF.
The Girls and Boys Education Movement provides children and young people a platform to make the best of their potential. It gives them access to skills and information, helps them to mobilise their communities to support the rights of girls, and provides a space where they can discuss issues that matter to them.
GEM/BEM has flourished, with more than 300,000 learners from over 5,000 schools participating in the programme. In 2011, the clubs promoted education and HIV prevention by organising ‘Back to School’ and awareness drives on HIV counselling and testing. An estimated half a million girls and boys were reached through these activities. In addition, 60 ‘Gemmers’ and ‘Bemmers’ participated in the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to raise awareness of the impact of climate change on children in South Africa.
Young people have their say on climate change
Listen to what a group of young people from KwaZulu-Natal have to say about climate change and the COP 17 conference.
I am my sister's & brother's keeper: Girls & Boys Education Movement Clubs - A guidebook for schools