In Madagascar, catch-up classes help children return to school
Corina, 9 years old, is one of thousands of children who were forced to drop out of school during the 2021 school year as a result of everyday life difficulties.
For Corina, everything changed when her father lost his job in as security guard 2021. With the family struggling to get by, Corina, her sister and brother were all taken out of school.
They began helping their mother as she worked to earn a little extra by selling banana fritters and washing clothes. "The situation was very sad, but we had no other solution,” recalls Célestine Tsarakoa, her mother. “I always wanted my children to be better educated than me, since I had to drop out of school at an early age.”
During the summer holidays of 2021, the headmistress of the community's primary school came to see Corina's parents to inform them about the school reintegration program for children who had recently dropped out of school. The program is implemented by the Regional Directorate of National Education with the technical and financial support from UNICEF. The program consists of two months of accelerated remedial classes, accompanied by the distribution of school supplies to lighten parental burdens and, above all, to motivate the children to return to school.
While Corina's father hesitated about his children returning to school, their mother was immediately convinced by this new opportunity. Corina, her older sister Germaine, 11, and her brother Tata, were able to return to school together in October 2021.
"I hope to be a teacher when I grow up. I would like to pass on knowledge," said Corina. As part of the same program, Corina and her brother received school supplies consisting of notebooks, pens, rulers, pencils, and pencil sharpeners. "I’m happy to be like the other students with the supplies I need to work. I also have separate notebooks for lessons and homework, which is great because before I had to manage with one notebook," says Corina.
This trio, along with 3,369 other primary school students from the Regional Directorate of National Education in the eastern part of Madagascar, have been able to continue their schooling with this refresher program. Corina's sister, Germaine, has just obtained her first diploma, and Corina and Tata have been admitted to the 8th and 9th grades respectively. According to the director of the public primary school, the distribution of school supplies is of paramount importance in motivating students and easing the costs to families. "It would be interesting to extend the distribution of school supplies to all pupils because the main reason for dropping out of school is the inability of parents to cover the additional costs of schooling.”