|© UNICEF Guinea/2004|
|French singer Yves Duteil, right, and UNICEF Guinea Representative Marcel Rudasingwa.|
Yves Duteil, internationally renowned singer and composer from France, gave a concert in Conakry on 24 March to benefit disadvantaged children in Guinea. Proceeds from the event will be used to build a school for 300 children in Guéckédou, a district in Southern Guinea that was devastated when conflicts in neighbouring Liberia and Sierra Leone spilled over into the country in 2000.
The concert was made possible by an unprecedented partnership between Banque Internationale pour le Commerce et l’Industrie en Guinée, Air France, Novotel and the French-Guinean Cultural Center.
In Guéckédou as in other parts of the country, less than 50% of primary school age children receive an education. In 2002, only 33% of all girls in Guinea attended school. One third of these drop out before the end of primary school. There are many factors against girls receiving basic education in Guinea apart from the severe shortages of classrooms, teachers and teaching materials.
Girls contribute significantly to the workload at home and their presence would be missed. The expectation for girls is low and they have few role models to follow. Poverty and malnutrition decrease the willpower of girls and parents to overcome the obstacles. Violence and organised gangs occur in some schools and are intimidating for girls. There are rarely separate toilets for girls.
The curriculum is biased towards the education of boys. The old textbooks reinforce negative stereotyping. Once girls have fallen out of the national education system there is little or no accommodation for them to re-enter.
Yves Duteil’s concert will benefit both girls and boys in Guéckédou. The 12,500 US$ raised will be handed over to UNICEF on 22 April to build a school that, according to UNICEF’s representative in Guinea, “will play an important role in the future of these children and provide a safe environment for them to acquire knowledge and life skills.”