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Learning from 2016: a year that made the case for education and opportunity

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If ever there was a year to emphasise the universal importance of education, empowerment and the opportunities they bring, 2016 was it, and you helped us to share our message.

We were, once again, inspired by our partners and our beneficiaries, learning from their work on their enormous experience working to educate girls, women and vulnerable groups. We heard amazing testimonies sharing how access to education has raised aspirations, led to decent jobs and inspired girls’ families and communities. Even amid difficult economic and political times, 2016 showed us how relevant our model of empowerment through education is to the wider world. 

In with the new!

Across the year, we were lucky enough to build new partnerships with schools in Cameroon, Honduras and Peru, strengthening our network of local organisations around the world working to help disadvantaged women build new lives with education and training. In London, our work around refugee education gained momentum as we engaged with a range of politicians and organisations, both community groups and national organisations like Refugee Action, and NATECLA, on the issue of language learning for vulnerable refugee and migrant women in Parliament, where presenting our research. We even had the opportunity to be inspired by more than 100 refugees and young people working to welcome them at our “A Refugee Like Me” conference. 

A session at our "A Refugee Like Me" conference. 

We found inspiration in individuals too, from our friends at Romulo Cafe who have been raising money for scholarships at our Philippines partner, to the amazing women who starred in and made our “Women Breaking the English Barrier” film, to our fantastic volunteers and supporters who made our Christmas appeal better than ever!

We drew optimism from the wider development picture too. In what was the first official year of the sustainable development goals, conversation continued around handing development over to the “Global South”, two-way development and facilitating the greater involvement local people and organisations in development projects. These concepts are a crucial element of our work with partners on knowledge exchange and vocational education. After all, for girls to learn sustainably, programmes have to be tailored to their context, families and challenges, and for education to result in decent employment, learning has to be matched to the skills needed by local industries.  We’re hoping to see these ideas get even more attention in 2017.

On with the old!

We have been excited to continue our work with our established partners. We heard amazing updates from our scholars in the Philippines, beneficiaries of one of our first major projects, the Typhoon Haiyan Education Appeal back in 2013-14. It’s amazing to see how the generosity of our donors and volunteers has blossomed into young women with great goals for their futures and that of their communities. 

We welcomed our Kazakhstan partner to London, building new links with diaspora communities here, a key part of our work and launching our country research at Ernst & Young. We have continued to work with our partners in Nigeria, Guatemala, DR Congo, Peru and others. 

We also hosted some fabulous fundraising events including our Winter Wonderland Ball, Tropical Roof Party and Christmas Lights campaign. Thank you to everyone who came and and helped out!  

Friends at our tropical roof party. 

To all who supported us and our education mission this year, we say: thank you!

This year’s challenges have shown us we must reaffirm our dedication to helping disadvantaged people (wherever they may be) to make the most of every opportunity in the New Year. 

For that, we’ll need your help!