The Four Pillars PLUS approach uses scholarships, teacher professional development, mentoring of girls and community participation to improve the quality and relevance of education for orphans and other vulnerable children, especially girls, in primary and secondary school. The foundation of Four Pillars PLUS is to engage communities in the particular challenges facing girls and their families. The PLUS aspect of the program takes into account the culture and context of each project location and incorporates activities that are most appropriate for building support for girls' education, enriching the local economy and ensuring sustainability through education, skills, training and employment.
Four Pillars PLUS, Gem District, Kenya 2008–2015
In Gem District, the project targeted 10 primary schools, 17 secondary schools and one vocational training institute, with the aim of improving enrollment, retention and completion of primary and secondary education. The PLUS component of the project focused on helping students transition from school to the labor market through mentoring and building partnerships with public, private and informal sectors to offer internships, apprenticeships and job placement for project beneficiaries within the counties of Kisumu and Siaya. The project also addressed strengthening the capacity of communities to engage in income-generating activities and increasing commitment to invest in girls’ education.
Four Pillars PLUS, Benue State, Nigeria 2012–2014
Four Pillars PLUS expanded to Benue State, Nigeria in 2012. The project encouraged community engagement as a means to solve the particular challenges facing adolescent girls, especially those in junior and senior secondary schools, and their families. The PLUS aspect of the project took into account the particular culture and context of Benue State and responded with relevant interventions. These included transitioning graduating students to the labor market, through internships and employment, and higher education while empowering communities with skills and training so that they could become more economically productive. The project built support for girls' education, enriched the local economy and ensured sustainability through education, skills, training, employment and community participation. Project activities also contributed to securing education for both boys and girls while addressing the negative gender norms that prevent girls’ education.
Four Pillars PLUS, Cross River State, Nigeria 2015–2018
The Four Pillars PLUS approach in Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria, was redesigned in 2015 to address the challenges faced by adolescent girls and boys in maximizing their human potential while maintaining realistic youth-defined goals. The program provides 4,800 adolescent girls and boys in four public schools in Calabar with the skills and information needed to value their health; be resourceful, creative and resilient; negotiate and bargain; and dare to make nontraditional career choices. The Four Pillars PLUS project in Cross River State will achieve its goal by focusing on 1) building the capacity of parents and receiving households to equitably support their girls’ and boys’ agency, 2) improving the quality of teaching through gender-sensitive pedagogy and the creation of violence-free schools, 3) mentoring and tutoring girls and boys to enhance their agency and protect their health, and 4) creating an enabling environment for girls and boys through effective community mobilization of stakeholders, including school-based management committees and parent-teacher associations, primary health care workers, traditional and religious leaders, and women’s and youth groups.