SOAR provides access to an integrated accelerated education model through which graduates acquire basic skills in literacy, numeracy, and financial literacy. Adolescent girls (and boys) are also equipped with the knowledge, self-confidence, vision, and relationships needed to engage in entrepreneurship and to participate in decision-making at home and in their communities.
Globally, about 258 million children and adolescents are out of school. Millions of other children in low-income countries are not acquiring the basic literacy and numeracy skills needed for future livelihoods: It is estimated that only 15% of the children who complete lower secondary school in Sub-Saharan Africa have achieved basic proficiency in reading, while 10% have acquired basic skills in mathematics.
SOAR is designed as a tailored solution for “last mile” girls who are out of school and face multiple barriers to enroll, attend class, and learn. SOAR participants include girls who are married or at high risk of early marriage; displaced girls affected by conflict; socially excluded groups; the extremely poor; and girls with disabilities, including mental health issues.
SOAR currently supports 4.1 million girls through accelerated learning programs and leadership skills development. SOAR’s curriculum builds basic knowledge and skills in literacy, basic mathematics, financial literacy, savings, business development, and sexual and reproductive health. In parallel, SOAR develops girls’ leadership skills – self-confidence, vision, decision-making, voice, and the capacity to work with others to solve problems.
In India, 95% of girls who completed the accelerated learning program passed the national exams to be eligible to transition back to formal schools. The success of the accelerated education model led the government of the state of Uttar Pradesh to adopt it as the standard approach to support out-of-school children.
In Nepal, at the end of an 11-month period, 88% of the participants had learned to read and 82% had acquired basic numeracy skills. Girls who graduated from SOAR were significantly less likely to be married young than girls who did not participate in the program (7% vs. a 40% national average).