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Ms Lucy Lake

Chief Executive Officer, CAMFED

Prize

Yidan Prize for Education Development

Year

2020

Expertise

Women and girls education

Focus by region

Africa

Establishing a new model of education worldwide

Ms Lucy Lake is Chief Executive of CAMFED. Since 1994, Ms Lake has led CAMFED’s program to become a transformative model for girls’ education through which every girl can fulfill her potential.

She has pioneered award-winning strategies to achieve an unprecedented uplift in school retention and learning among marginalized girls, benefiting over six million young people, and culminating in a new generation of 157,000 young women leaders now at the forefront of a pan-African movement for girls’ education.

Under Ms Lake’s tenure, CAMFED has been recognized by the OECD for best practice in taking education innovation to scale. In doing so, she has challenged the common perception that it is prohibitively costly to transition from local initiatives to large scale programs benefiting the most marginalised girls, proving it can be highly cost-effective and deliver extraordinary returns.

She is a founding Chair of the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative, and a member of the High-Level Steering Committee of the Education Commission’s Workforce Initiative. She was awarded an OBE in the 2019 Queen’s Honors in recognition of her service to young people.

“The CAMFED model shows that partnering with communities to unlock the leadership potential of girls and women at the margins of society creates an inspiring multiplier effect. In their own words: ‘When you educate a girl everything changes.’”
Citation

By Ms Dorothy K. Gordon

Panel Head, Judging Panel for Education Development, Yidan Prize

It is my pleasure to introduce Ms Lucy Lake and Ms Angeline Murimirwa, the 2020 Yidan Prize for Education Development laureates. These two exceptional women represent CAMFED, the Campaign for Female Education, a team recognized for their best practice in taking educational innovation to scale. The CAMFED model shows that partnering with communities to unlock the leadership potential of girls and women at the margins of society creates an inspiring multiplier effect. In their own words “When you educate a girl everything changes”.

Access to education for girls remains a critical problem in Sub-Saharan Africa. Until this year, enrollment rates continued to show improvement but an alarming number of girls drop out of school. Before the pandemic struck, UNESCO estimated that in Sub-Saharan Africa over 30 million girls of primary and lower secondary age were out of school. This number rises to over 50 million when taking into account girls of upper secondary school age. School completion rates for girls in rural areas in Africa are particularly low. CAMFED’s research shows that poverty has a greater impact than the socio-cultural factors that are often used to explain these low retention rates. They estimate that less than 10% of girls have the resources that will allow them to complete secondary education. The pandemic has amplified many equity gaps and even more children are now out of school, further exposing adolescent girls to the risks of early marriage, pregnancy and abuse.

These problems have no easy solutions. It has taken over two decades for the CAMFED team to develop a cost-effective model that successfully provides inclusive and equitable quality education that can be taken continent-wide.

At the heart of this model is a community. A community that enhances the CAMFED scholarships. It includes parent support groups, peer mentors, and teachers working together to create a supportive environment that allows girls to achieve academic goals while building their self-esteem and leadership skills. Each girl in turn will support other girls. So far 6 million girls have benefitted from CAMFED support.

I am proud to mention that one of our winners Angeline Murimirwa, CAMFED’s Executive Director for Africa was one of CAMFED’s first clients. Today, she leads the CAMFED Association, a network of over 150,000 young women leaders еmpowered by their shared experience of overcoming poverty through education. Each member supports a number of girls from her community to go to school.

This combination of scholarships and socio-emotional support achieves exceptional improvements in school retention and learning among marginalized girls in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Ghana, Tanzania and Malawi, the five countries where CAMFED works.

On behalf of the Judging Committee, I extend our sincere congratulations to both Ms Lake and Ms Murimirwa and indeed the entire CAMFED team for their achievement. We wish them success as the Yidan Prize supports them in realizing their dream of scaling their model to an additional 5 million adolescent girls over the next five years.

CAMFED is founded on the belief that every child is entitled to a quality education in a safe environment and a life as an independent adult. They remind us that education is a universal right and that girls’ education transforms lives. No child should be left behind.