Most girls in Niger leave school before they have finished their studies. The Sarraounia project tries to reverse this trend by boosting the girls' self-confidence.
Numbers do not lie: Education helps protect girls. Education helps in the fight against child marriages and against infant mortality. Because of their education women can better contribute to making their community a fair and more inclusive place. Girls with a degree grow up to become women investing 90% of their incomes in their family; Household incomes may increase with 25% for each year of additional schooling and mothers with a degree are twice as likely to send their children to school.
In Niger, only 64% of girls are registered for school. Women’s literacy rates are also very low. Indeed, women literacy rate is at 18.2% only, against 40.2% for men (2012).
Often girls leave school before having finished their studies. There are many reasons for this, including early marriage, early pregnancy, geographic remoteness and poor school system.
But according to Fati, the secretary of the pupils’ mothers’ association in Birni N’Falla, everyone has to play their part: ”We are responsible for the poor success rate of girls,” claims Fati “Boys get all the time they need to succeed, whereas we impose household chores on the girls,” she adds. According to Fati, parents must pay as much attention to their daughters’ education as to their sons’. She adds, ”Both can and should go to school as long as it takes.”
Girls with a degree grow up to become women investing 90% of their incomes in their family. Mothers with a degree are twice as likely to send their children to school.
That is why the Sarraounia project of Enabel, in collaboration with the Nigerian government, aims to keep young girls in school in the rural communes of the Dosso region, paying attention to the obstacles faced by girls every day.
”I have coordinated the Sarraounia project over the past year. To me this is a personal commitment in the fight against girls dropping out of school and so I give the best of myself to improve school retention rates and help girls obtain their Junior Secondary Education Certificate in our intervention zone.” says Balkissa Harouna Brah, the project coordinator.
The Sarraounia project is a pilot project. That is why we always aimed at innovation, in both our approach and in the tools of intervention that we use. From the start onwards, we wanted to test incentives to make most local actors understand the benefits of education for young girls.
The Sarraounia project aims to keep young girls in school in the rural communes of the Dosso region, paying attention to the obstacles faced by girls every day.
Study trip to Benin
By organising an annual Sarraounia contest rewarding the most committed actors, the project aims to arouse the interest of actors to achieve the desired behavioural change, namely retaining young girls in high school in view of them obtaining their Junior Secondary Education Certificate.
For 2017 – the first edition of this contest – a study trip to Benin was awarded to the best-of-grade pupils of six pilot rural high schools,” explains Balkissa. ”It was not easy to decide what price to award, because if you want to significantly promote the desired behavioural change, the prize must be sufficiently attractive for the targeted beneficiaries. But, a study trip to a neighbouring country like Benin to us seemed an attractive prize for the award winning girls, most of whom have never left their village, and for their family and community. “
Give them a voice
”The fact of travelling and exploring an unknown country on their own is more likely to empower these girls than classical leadership training. It also offers an excellent opportunity not only to work on their general education, but also to develop an open mind towards different cultures,” explains Balkissa.
“But there is so much that still needs to be done. Every girl should be heard. It was an honour for me to amplify their voices. “
- In Niger, there are slightly more women (50.14%) than men. Women are twice more likely than men to end up in poverty and they are poorly represented in the country’s economy and political and administrative decision-making instances.
- The gross school enrollment rate of girls is 64.8%, against 77.7% for boys (2014).
- The literacy rate of women is only 18.2%, against 40.2% for men (2012).
- Niger also is the country with the highest child marriage rate: More than 3 in 4 girls are married before age 18; one in three is even married before age 15.