|© UNICEF Benin/2006|
|One of the posters for the ‘All girls to school’ campaign in Benin.|
By Michele Badarou
COTONOU, Benin, 10 August 2006 – A generous donation of $7.6 million from the Government of the Netherlands is helping UNICEF kickstart the ’All girls to school’ campaign in Benin.
The grant, spread across three years, will assist in implementing the Essential Learning Package component of a 10-year Plan for Education developed by UNICEF Benin and its partners. The programme focuses on accelerating girls’ access to education by training teachers, improving the school environment and reinforcing the value of girls’ education within the community.
In this West African nation, where one in three girls does not attend school, girls’ education initiatives have become a top priority.
|© UNICEF Benin/2006|
|Children watching the film ‘All girls to school’, which tells the story of a young girl’s desire to be enrolled as a student.|
One of those initiatives, the ‘All girls to school’ campaign launched in June, will last six months and covers the whole country. Large billboards have been displayed on the main roads in major cities. Five thousand motorbike taxi drivers, known as ‘zemidjans’, are also involved in the effort, sporting shirts with the campaign logo.
The campaign, which urges parents to register their daughters in school, is primarily targeting zones where girls’ school attendance is low. In line with the longer-term Plan for Education, it aims to achieve parity between girls and boys in primary schools while striving towards education for all.
Film portrays parents’ choice
As part of the drive to raise awareness on girls’ education, social mobilizers have been travelling to the remote villages of Zakpota and showing a new film, also called ‘All girls to school’. Produced by UNICEF, the film portrays attempts by a mediator to convince a young girl’s parents to respect her desire to attend school.
To the parents in the film, school is only for boys. By insisting on the advantages of girls’ education, the mediator finally persuades them to take their daughter to school. She quickly rises to the top of her class and hopes, one day, to become a mediator herself in order to convince other parents to enrol their daughters in school as well.
“Our school has 250 children, of which 20 per cent are girls,’ said a local teacher in Zakpota, André Dagba. “Hence, the importance of such a film in this village. It illustrates well the essential: Girls’ education is the key to development.”