Plan Overseas - Education

Girl-friendly schools see enrolment rates soar in Burkina Faso

Thousands of girls in Burkina Faso who would normally never have the chance to go to school are receiving an education thanks to an innovative program led by Plan.

The BRIGHT project – Burkinabé Response to Improve Girls Chances to Succeed – is funded by a grant from the USAID-Millennium Challenge Corporation and achieves high levels of school enrolment and graduation rates for girls by creating supportive learning environments in 132 communities across 10 provinces.

Girls' plight

73% of girls in Burkina Faso never finish primary school.

Many of them are forced to stay at home and look after their younger siblings and collect firewood and water while their parents work in the fields. Others drop out because their school has no private latrines for girls.

Community action

Working closely with communities and local government, the BRIGHT project ensures schools have child-friendly classrooms equipped with appropriate furniture and textbooks, a borehole to provide safe water, separate male and female latrine blocks for sanitation, and housing units for teachers. The children also receive a mid-day meal and there is a take-home ration for girls who achieve an attendance rate of 90% or more.

Some of the schools also have an on-site child-care centre that allows mothers to leave their youngest children under safe supervision and let their older daughters go to school while they work in the fields.

Exceeding expectations

Teacher Mrs. Alimata Ouattara-Sawadogo has 42 girls and 33 boys in her class. In many communities, school enrolment rates have exceeded original estimates and some classes now contain even more girls than boys.

8 year-old Kadidiatou says she loves her school because they learn to read and write and "learn a lot of things." She has already decided to "become a teacher" when she grows older.

Kadidiatou's mother, a farmer and widow with 4 children, is also delighted with the project:

"Before BRIGHT, it was difficult to send the little ones afar to attend school. The child had to be 7 to be sent to school. BRIGHT schools give children incentives to attend school through the provision of school canteens and especially the dry ration which is beneficial to the household," she said.

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