In 2001, Tarbiyya-Tatali (the Friends of Niger with a local staff provided by the RAEDD) financed the program “a workbook per pupil per subject” at Gourou Kirey and a teaching position. The inhabitants of this village are Peuls, traditionally cattle breeders, and the parents of the pupils did not approve the schooling of their children. They were afraid that their children would lose their lifestyle of breeders.
Linking herding and schooling
In 2002, the Friends of Niger awarded 227 500 CFA to the association of the pupils’ parents to set up an “Educational herd”. There was a lottery to select 23 pupils among the CM1 and CM2 classes. They got 10,000 CFA each (7 500 for the last one) to purchase one animal , to feed it and to resell it within 5 months. They reimbursed the loan with an interest rate of 10%. The interest allowed extending the number of recipients to 26 the following year then to 31 for a total amount of 350000 CFA. The Canadian fund for local initiatives supports this project and adds complementary funds to support all the pupils of this school, a total of 201 (103 girls and 98 boys), it represents 1.5 million CFA.
The association of the pupils’ parents created a breeders’ committee to manage this project. The committe includes: a chairperson, a treasurer, a secretary (these three are pupils’ parents appointed for two years), the teacher, a member of the RAEDD, is responsible for calling the meetings and keeping track of payment deadlines.
Each pupil receives CFA10,000 which normally covers the purchase and food of the animal. The family must sell the animal after 5 months to reimburse the loan. The animal is sold either at the market located on the road of Say or to the butcher. The parents take care of this phase and a few smart children go with their parents to observe the negociations process. The parents also manage the loan, sometimes the children get involved.
The committee calls for a general meeting after 5 months, the parents repay the loans with 10% interest.
Normally, selling the animal means increasing the initial amount, even doubling it. The profits go to the young herder alone
to purchase clothes, school book and food at school. The interest is awarded to allow the participation of more pupils. If all goes well the net profit is quite attractive, for example Ramatou, the school teacher, purchased the animal for 8,000 CfA, paid 250 for transportation and 1700 for food , then sold the animal 16,500 CFA to the butcher
Dealing with failures
The cost of the animal varies depending upon the season, and the animal costs less in times of food shortage. It also happens that the animal gets sick or dies. The selling price is sometimes low (ex: 7,000 CFA); in that case the credit has to be repaid but it is possible to postpone the reimbursement. The parents need to explain the circumstances to the committee. Once a pupil reimbursed the loan but did not explain to the committee that his animal had died. The committee looks for solutions to encourage the pupils who have already suffered a setback