In Niger, over one million primary-aged children have never had the chance to go to school and those lucky enough to attend school are not getting the standard of education they deserve. Despite their commitment, many teachers are not properly trained, and don’t have the resources they need to deliver engaging lessons. Girls miss out more than boys and are trapped in early marriages and a life of poverty. On average, girls only receive 1.2 years of schooling.
The Oxford Circle and The Circle member Vanessa Emilien supported an Oxfam project in three of the poorest rural areas of Niger —providing teachers with professional training, supporting school committees and helping to improve the quality of education delivered in local schools. The schools were equipped with stationary and teaching manuals, and latrines were built, which provide privacy and makes attending school more appealing, especially to girls. New classrooms were built in four schools to replace the straw huts where pupils attended their lessons and reading groups were created.
The project also worked with community groups to discuss a range of issues from child marriage, to women’s rights, to the value of education —especially for girls.
- In 2013, the 18 schools that were involved in this project achieved record enrollment levels.
- In 2014, 82 per cent of primary school pupils continued on to secondary schools, compared to 71 per cent three years earlier.
- In 2014, 4,100 children in schools supported by the project received learning materials.
Poor hygiene poses a real danger to young children in rural Niger. Babies are most at risk, but older children also miss lessons and fall behind on their school work if they become ill. Oxfam, working through a local partner, has constructed latrines at Salamatou Abdou’s school in Seno Kobadjé, Tillabery, to provide sanitation. Salamatou and her classmates, all in their last year of primary school, worked with the project to provide training on hygiene and handwashing to younger children.
“Before the project, our school did not have a toilet. Since it started, we’ve been shown how to wash our hands. We know how to keep the school clean and we tidy public areas. Children’s health has improved and many of the things we used to do have changed. Pupils at the school pay more attention to hygiene.