“We want to go to school, achieve primary education, and go forward in order to become ministers, civil servants, teachers, physicians, top executives,” are the lyrics to a song sung by 12 young girls from Toviklin, a rural town in the Southwest of Benin, during the ceremony.
Access to education has been improving for both boys and girls during the last five years. However, retention rates are still very low and high discrepancies are observed between urban and rural areas. At present, one out of five girls and one out of four boys are still left out of school. In addition, 45 among the 77 administrative districts existing in Benin have witnessed a net girl’s enrolment rate that stands below the national average of 92 per cent.
“Education is a key cornerstone in achieving the 7 others MDGs, therefore we must continue to call for education for all,” said the UNICEF Representative in Benin, Dr. Souleymane Diallo.
The Minister of Preschool and Primary Education, Christine Ouinsavi, stressed the need for parents to send their daughters to school, as well as the importance of education for the well being of girls themselves, and for the prosperity of families, communities and the entire nation. The Minister also presented the innovation of the 2008 campaign, a three-branch caravan that will tour major rural districts where girls’ education rates are still low.
Speaking both in French and Fon, one of the main local languages, First Lady Chantal Yayi expressed her gratitude to all partners supporting the education system. She urged parents to send their daughters to school and she explained the benefits of education. “All Girls to school is our rallying cry,” she declared. Expressing her commitment, she asserted that she will come back and visit families, to make sure that all girls are actually at school and not at home. Mrs. Yayi hailed the three-branch education caravan as an initiative that will help mobilize each and every one in numerous villages and will significantly contribute to the success of the campaign.
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.
For further information, please contact:
Gisèle Langue-Menye, Communication Specialist, UNICEF Benin, tel (229) 97 97 51 08, e-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org