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New programme in Mauritania increases school enrolment, especially for girls

UNICEF Image: Mauritania, Girls' Education
© UNICEF video
Mariem Saidou Sall (far left), 11, with her sixth-grade class in Mauritania, where a UNICEF-backed education programme is working to improve enrolment.

By Roshni Karwal

NEW YORK, USA, 1 October 2008 – Mariem Saidou Sall, 11, is in sixth grade at the Sarandougou School in the remote and poor Brakna Region of Mauritania. Like most of her friends and neighbours in the village, she rides the bus to school every morning.

The bus is provided as part of a UNICEF-backed programme that supports quality basic education for all, with an emphasis on girls’ education. The long distances from home to school, which are often unsafe to walk alone, can prevent girls from going to school.

“UNICEF has given us pens and pencils, exercise books, folders and clean water,” said Mariem, who receives her supplies through a local cooperative. “The Sarandougou School is very nice now.” 

The programme has vastly improved the learning environment by helping to provide separate latrines for girls, facilities for hand washing, a safe water supply and solar energy equipment. Using a community-based approach, it has improved the environment in modern schools as well as traditional religious schools. 
'Education for All' 
With 75 million children around the world still not enrolled in primary school (and 93 million not attending), UNICEF is working rapidly to achieve the Millennium Development Goal and UNESCO's 'Education for All' goal on ensuring education for all primary school-age children by 2015.

And real results have been achieved in recent years in Mauritania, where girls now outnumber boys in primary school enrolment.
“These good results are due to the participatory approach and the community role, which makes the Sarandougou site among the most successful in terms of quality education,” said UNICEF Mauritania's Chief of Education, Abdoul Sow.
Reaching every school
The programme has made so much progress in the Brakna region that it is now being extended to the rest of the country in a partnership between UNICEF and the Mauritanian Government. 

“We understand today the importance of education – particularly, girls’ education which can help us alleviate poverty and improve our future,” said Sarandougou Parents' Association President Malal Samba.

The child-friendly principles in evidence at the Sarandougou School reflect Mauritania's commitment to provide quality education. In the spirit of 'Education for All', these principles help to create a space where girls and boys want to be – and where they want to remain in order to complete their schooling.




September 2008: UNICEF correspondent Roshni Karwal reports on a UNICEF-backed programme working to improve school enrolment in Mauritania, especially for girls.
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