Newcastle High Headmistress is travelling to East Africa to visit a girls’ education project run by global children’s charity Plan UK.

Hilary French, will be visiting a girls’ school in Kamuli, one of the most deprived areas of Uganda, next week.

She will also be visiting a project in the capital Kampala which supports hundreds of girls and young women who have been sexually exploited.

“I am excited to see Plan’s projects, especially its work with girls. I am a woman, I have a daughter, I am head of a girls’ school and I have had the privilege of working with thousands of girls over the years, so these issues are important to me,” says Hilary

“As a teacher, I’ll also be interested in education; the numbers of children in classes, the sorts of things girls are taught and the feel of the classrooms.

“It is such an effort to get to school for some of the children, there is a lack of trained teachers and resources, so it will be interesting to see first-hand the challenges they have to cope with and what Plan is doing to help,” adds Hilary.

Mrs French said she has wanted to visit Africa ever since her daughter Rebecca’s visit to Lesotho a few years ago.

“The trip really changed her, and made her realise how materialistic our society is. There were children there who had virtually nothing, but who really appreciated what they did have,” she says.

Hilary French, former President of the Girls’ School Association (GSA), has been a supporter of Plan UK for several years.

“There are 62 million girls who don’t have access to an education, something we just can’t imagine here,” says Hilary.

“I want to help in whatever way I can and hopefully by maintaining those links between the girls here and those across the world, we can make a difference,” she adds.

Girls from GSA schools have raised more than £250,000 for Plan’s Because I am a Girl campaign over the past three years. The school Hilary is visiting is one of those to have benefitted from the funds.

The campaign aims to help millions of girls in the world’s poorest communities stay at school, live free from violence and have their voices heard.

This year, thousands of pupils at GSA schools, including Newcastle High, will be taking part in the second World Wide Walk in Marchto raise money for the campaign.

The aim is to collectively walk the circumference of the world – more than 40,000 kilometres – with each individual walking 10 kilometres each. Last year the event raised £84,000.

“Millions of girls are out of school, subjected to violence, including child marriage, and denied a voice. Access to a quality education is vital to ensure girls reach their full potential,” says Tanya Barron, Chief Executive of Plan UK.

“The World Wide Walk helps highlight the importance of girls’ education. The support of schoolchildren here in the UK really can help girls across the world transform their own lives and those of their communities,” adds Ms Barron.

To find out more about Plan UK’s World Wide Walk visit: www.plan-uk.org/worldwidewalk

For more information on Plan’s work or to make a donation call 0800 526 848 or visit www.plan-uk.org

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