Real lives

Real lives

 

Scholarships help keeping girls on track in the Sahel region

© UNICEF/Burkina Faso/2015/Tarpilga
15-years-old Saura Hama is from the commune of Bandoré commune located near the Niger border, fifty kilometers from Dori. She is satisfied with study conditions and accommodation at Suudu Andal college in Dori

By Claude Tarpilga

Djénélatou and Saoura attend the first year of junior high school at the Notre Dame du Sahel Suudu Andal High School, located in the town of Dori in the north of Burkina Faso. Coming from very different places geographically, and from different socioeconomic backgrounds, Djénélatou and Hama openly express their enjoyment in coming together within the framework of education, and in the accommodations and learning facilities which seem like a dream come true, thanks to the scholarships they received from UNICEF.

Djénélatou Ouédraogo is 12 years old. She is from a modest family in Silgadji in the province of Soum, and has successfully completed the requirements for the Primary Education Completion Certificate as well as the high school competitive entrance exam. She started schooling at the age of seven.

Saoura Hama, on her part, is 15 years old and comes from Damtambi village in the municipality of Bandoré, near the Nigerian border, some fifty kilometres from Dori. Just like Djénélatou, she has successfully taken her Primary Education Completion Certificate and the high school competitive entrance exam.

© UNICEF/Burkina Faso/2015/Tarpilga
12-years-old Djénélatou is a pensioner of Suudu Andal college in Dori. She makes her own bed every morning before joining the classes

While Djénélatou has been enrolled thanks to the excellence criterion which are heavily weighted in her favour, granting her first class honours in the region, Saoura’s admission was different. In fact, she was enrolled on the recommendation of the Social Action organization due to her family’s poverty.

After successfully taking her end-of-year exams, Saoura did not know if she would be able to continue her studies. “My parents are financially underprivileged,” she explains. Without her uncle’s intervention in contacting municipal authorities and without Social Action’s assessment of her vulnerable financial situation, Saoura would not have been granted the scholarship to continue her studies at the high school level.

In Burkina Faso, the main reasons for under-enrolment and high drop-out rates for girls are sociocultural and economic.  Two main sociocultural factors are unwanted pregnancies and child marriages. The economic reasons are linked to the lack of financial and material means, which prevent girls from continuing their studies. Such gender disparity continues to prevail in the Sahel region, where the girls’ enrolment rate is just about a half of the national average.

To address these issues, UNICEF has rolled out activities to increase the educational demand of girls, including financial and psychosocial support in the Sahel region, as well as in the provinces of Ganzougou et Namentenga. More precisely, 271 scholarships, 500 bicycles and 10,000 school kits have been awarded to girls of the target zones. The Notre Dame du Sahel Suudu Andal high school of Dori in the Sahel region is a part of this vision. Its role in keeping enrolment up and keeping girls on track in the Sahel school system is of paramount importance.

According to Sister Henriette, head teacher of the Notre dame du Sahel Suudu Handal high school, 26 municipalities of the Sahel region participate in subsidized enrolment, with one girl per municipality. Both academic performance and financial need are taken into consideration.  In addition to the 26 girls coming from the 26 municipalities, a quota of 4 vulnerable girls is granted to Social Action, which issues their recommendations so that these girls can attend high school. 

‘’ Altogether, thirty girls are helped each year. This year, we have a total of 65 girls benefiting from scholarships and enrolled in the high school. 50 have been granted full scholarships for the boarding school program, while 15 girls were granted half scholarships for the external school program ’’, said Sister Henriette.

Girls’ education remains as a priority for UNICEF in Burkina Faso, due to low enrolment and high dropout rates compared to boys especially in the target zones, as well as the low transition rate from primary and post-primary education for girls. The activities to promote girls’ education through scholarship have reached the beneficiaries of four entities for post-primary education, including the Suudu Andal high school, in the Sahel region and the provinces of Ganzougou and Namentenga.

 

 
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