Real lives

Child Friendly School

A tragic story about FGM and girls in Djibouti

Cholera, the disease of ignorance


Child Friendly School

© © UNICEF/Djibouti/Pirozzi/0098

Within the framework of the initiative "Child Friendly School", a committee  is currently visiting the different schools of the country in order to evaluate them in the light of some specific criteria such as girls’ education. The committee is studying school environment, meeting school headmasters, students, teachers, and students’ parents. During those meetings issues that are centered on schools and education are discussed , girls education in particular; in those discussions the emphasis is laid on what is being done or is to be done to make school environment friendly to children.

In 2005, two cases have been considered worth examining by the committee:
Nagad is a small village located about 3km from the capital city. There is a 3-classroom primary school. Ninety-one students go to this school among which 41 girls. There are 4 class-levels with 2 multilevel classes. The students are offered lunch at the canteen. The man in charge of the canteen is a retired military, he is married and has 4 school- aged children. His name is Omar and one of his children his daughter Saada. Omar tells us that there  are no schooling problems in his village. He says that all his children are in full education but then hesitates and says that his daughter does not. Saada, he says, helps her mother in the house chores. The members of the committee are shocked by the man’s attitude towards his daughter because they can’t explain why, by just 3 km from the capital city of Djibouti, the very man who is responsible for a school, canteen does not allow his own daughter to get an education at that school. He does the cooking for the school children when his wife and daughter prepare food at home. Saada watches her brothers and the other children go to school every morning. Indeed, she would like to join them; she has even begged her father to take her to school but the man has remained indifferent.He thinks his daughter to be more useful at home where her mother will provide her with an education founded on the traditions to prepare her for a good future marriage.
Mrs. Aicha, a committee member, asked him why he and the other sons were not helping the mother do the cooking and washing as they were already doing it at the canteen. Since the 1990’s economic crisis, many things have changed and most men nowadays prefer more and more working wives who will contribute financially to the family care and help the parents as well. Mr Omar promised to review the situation in the light of the new information he was given.

Quartier 6 is one of the popular districts of the capital city with two primary schools: Quartier 6 Primary School and Quartier 6 bis Primary School with respectively 1048 students (47% are girls) and 481 students (44% are girls). Quartier 6 Primary School is and located in old buildings that have been renovated and is now run by a young dynamic headmaster. During the discussion rounds on education and the issue of young girls who are not given the same opportunities as boys , he told us the story of Fardoussa. She is a young girl on sixth year of Primary education who was just withdrawn from school by her mother. Fardoussa is 12 and the youngest of a family of 5. Her father is a guard in a company in Djibouti and does not earn enough to take care of the family adequately. Her mother manages to deal with household chores, as much as she can, with the help of her daughter. At the end of the first term, the headmaster summoned the parents to report about the students’ progress as this sixth year of school was the final with and exam at the end. Fardoussa ‘mother was told about the difficulties her daughter was having in class to catch up with her classmates because she was not doing homework at all; she was running the risk conclude the headmaster to fail if she did not make the necessary efforts to improve her level. Fardoussa’s mother decided at once to withdraw her daughter from school telling the headmaster that as Fardoussa was not doing well at school she would therefore be helping her at home. That was the last day of school for the little girl despite her burning desire to learn; she has learnt the bitter lesson that girls do not have equal opportunity as boys. Fardoussa knows that her brother repeated class twice at primary school and was paid private tutoring until he passed his exams. Fardoussa was sent to add up to the crowd of illiterate women which is already very important in the country.



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