Real lives

Real lives

 

International Women’s Day – Burkina Faso making strides to close the gender gap in education

© UNICEF Burkina Faso/2010/Tarpilga C.
School children at Amitié B in Zorgho are happy with the new school building
Ouagadougou, 8 March 2011 - Burkina Faso has come a long way in addressing the education needs of its children. In 2000, just 44 per cent of children were enrolled in primary schools throughout the country. By 2010, this figure had increased to 74.9 per cent.

In the last decade, the Government of Burkina Faso has stepped up efforts to reach the Millennium Development Goal on gender, which seeks to eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education by 2015.

Since the development of the ten-year plan to accelerate progress in the basic education sector in 2001, statistics illustrating the narrowing gender divide at primary school level have been encouraging. In 2010, the boy to girl student ratio stood at 0.94, in comparison to 0.7 in 2000.

Mussa Kaboré is the Deputy Director of Amitié A primary school located in Zorgho, central Burkina Faso. He has worked at the school for eight years and has noted a steady increase in the enrollment of girls during this period. The school currently has 600 students, more than 50 per cent of which are girls.

The Deputy Director affirms that the abolishment of fees in all public primary schools nationwide in 2008 has been a major factor in increased primary school enrolment rates. “Now that there are no school fees, parents no longer feel that they have to choose which children should receive an education,” he says.

Community sensitization activities led by non-governmental organizations have also contributed to the enrolment of girls at school. As Mr. Kabore explains, “Parents are sending their children, both girls and boys to school.”

Another key element in reducing Burkina Faso’s gender gap is the increased number of school buildings which have been built with a gender sensitive approach.

Due to the growing enrolment rates at Amitié A school, an extension of the school was built with financial support from UNICEF in 2010. The extension, known as Amitié B, has six classrooms, six latrines and hand washing devices. The latrines are separated for girls and boys, which is particularly important for girls who are vulnerable to dropping out of school when sanitation facilities are not private, or are simply not available.

© UNICEF Burkina Faso/2010/Ofori-Amanfo
Sissao is a dedicated student and believes every child has the right to an education

Sissao Rabiatou is a 13-year-old student at Amitié A primary school. She started attending the school when she was nine-years-old. Sissao declares that she is very happy with the new conditions at her school. “I think more schools should be built to make sure that all children can go to school,” she says. “All parents should send their children to school, it is important!

If current efforts are strengthened and intensified, there is a real chance that Burkina Faso will achieve gender parity at primary school level by 2015. Mr. Kaboré, an advocate of educating girls, maintains that this is important for Burkina Faso’s progress. “I believe that if we educate girls, we will educate this nation,” he says.

However, the country’s main challenge remains narrowing the gender gap in secondary education. In 2008, 31.9 per cent of secondary school students were boys in comparison to 24.6 per cent girls.

The issue of equity, and how to assure that children from poorer households have equal access to education, is also being tackled. At present, only 7 per cent of children from the poorest fifth of households attend secondary school, as opposed to almost 19 per cent of children from the wealthiest fifth.

 

 

 
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