Maintaining girls in secondary education.
The number of girls completing secondary education is very low in Niger. If boarding accommodation is unavailable, they stay in foster families and have to participate in housework tasks.
The Fadou House, a boarding house for the girls of Bagaji, is an attempt at solving the problem : girls will find good studying conditions there.
The project mobilized the population of Bagaji and neighbouring villages, with funding by the AECIN members, the Bagaji citizens, aid from the Vocational Training Minister and subsidies from the Humanitarian Aid Association.
The building was completed in the spring of 2009. By December 2009, boarding had not started yet. The Bagji secondary school failed to operate properly : out of the first 14 students taking the Secondary Diploma, only one passed. Parents feel frustrated, and are reluctant to enrol their children there.
Who was Fadou ?
In the Arewa oral tradition, Fadou was Baura’s daughter, Saraouniya’s grand-daughter. Married to Ari, the Bornou King’s son, she gave birth to Akazama, who is the first sarkin of the Arewa, and to his twin brother Ganci. After Ari left, she married again several times and gave birth to sarkin Ruahi, sarkin Iahama, sarkin Tudu, sarkin Yamma Ligido.
Thus she is the mother of all the children of Arewa, a symbol of unity in the diversity of the region’s inhabitants.
The situation in the summer of 2010.
The boarding house opened in May 2010 with 30 boarders, thanks to the AECIN members and to financing from the Rennes Brocéliande Rotary Club. The girls come from the villages around Bagaji: Roubouki (14 kms), Rijia Maida (15 kms), Salga (16 kms), Guezangna (6 kms), Tounfafi (15 kms), Makera (17 kms) and from Bagaji itself. Out of 250 pupils in Bagagi secondary school, 30% are girls.
The family head Malam Bori who is charged by the Bagagi families with supervising the girls is by trade a ‘table holder’, in other words a very small grocer whose only shop is a table. Before the boarding house opened, he used to set up his table at the market square. Now, he has placed it at the boarding house entrance. This enables him to supervise the girls day and night.
The teachers organised remedial teaching in Maths, English, Physics, and two French assistant teachers also gave support during their solidarity stay.
In 2010, 8 Bagaji School pupils passed the Secondary Education Diploma, but unfortunately no girl among them.
The boarding-school in 2010-2011.
Thirty girls were enrolled as boarders in 2010-2011, their parents contributing to their meals (by providing millet, their staple food) and the Rennes Brocéliande Rotary Club renewing their support.
In 2011, again, 8 students from the Bagaji junior school passed the 9th grade finals, but, again, none of the girls passed!
Educational actions in 2010-2011
Given the girls’ repeated failure at the exam, and the difficulty met in funding both the boarding school and the support teacher for extra tuition, the decision was made to concentrate on extra tuition for those girls due to take the exam this year, with an aim to seeing some girls succeed. Consequently, the boarding school is currently closed.
Intensive holiday courses for 9th grade girls take place during school holidays. Out 26 girls enrolled in the 9th grade, 23 attended the first session in December 2011.
The scheme is supported by funds from Solidarité Laïque which are channeled through the French Agency for Development, (support funds for local initiatives) and are managed by RESDEN (a network for the development of education in Niger). The latter selects the NGO or local association benefiting from the funds and is also in charge of monitoring the action.
In July 2012, three girls from the Bagaji Middle School passed the final examas well as four boys. The number of girls graduating since the middle school opened has risen from nil to 3.