June 2021: The largest country in West Africa, Niger, remains one of the lowest-income countries in the world. As a land-locked country with 80% of its territiory situated in the Sahara Desert, it suffers environmental hardships that greatly impact Niger’s children and their education system.
With a high population growth rate and far higher than average level of poverty-stricken families, many children aren’t enrolled in schools due to the need to engage in child labour. Access to schools is also more challenging in many rural areas, with added complications for girls and their ability to attend classes.
However, one of the most prevalent hurdles to stopping children from accessing an education is the lack of security. Displacement due to conflict and insecurity in the region has dramatically hindered many children’s chances of attending school. The journey to and from school is deemed too high risk for many families to consider.
Global Partnership for Education (GPE) funding, along with support from partners like the Agence française de développement (AFD) and UNICEF, is helping Niger strengthen its education system amidst numerous crises through partnership initiatives that are restoring trust within communities and encouraging school attendance with a renewed vision on security in areas affected by conflict. Schools inundated by recently displaced students were unable to provide the required infrastructure to accomodate all of the students. Now that this has improved, both former pupils and new arrivals are returning to education with confidence.
In light of the pandemic, educational facilities have to handle added layers of safeguarding to avoid the spread of COVID-19. GPE funded initiatives are some of the biggest driving forces to minimising the risk of increased school dropouts through sanitisation facilities and mobilised units delivering educational materials to children in rural areas.
The balance between responsive and longer-term action plans in Niger is helping keep the country’s children safe while also prioritizing their right to an education. With funding from GPE and continued partnership working with the country’s ministry of education, Niger’s future generations are being given more hope for the right to a safe education.
00:00:03 - 00:00:17 - GVs, road, welcome sign to Tillaberi.
00:00:18 - 00:00:25 - Kurakano School – School exterior.
00:00:26 - 00:00:40 - Kurakano School - Children assemble outside.
00:00:41 - 00:01:49 - Kurakano School - Various frames of students in lessons.
00:01:50 - 00:02:24 - Kurakano School - Various frames of students washing hands.
00:02:26 - 00:03:04 - INTV Salou Ibrahim, Headteacher Kurakano School – Challenges arisen from the security situation.
00:03:05 - 00:03:59 - INTV Salou Ibrahim, Headteacher Kurakano School - Construction of Hygiene Infrastructure.
00:03:59 - 00:04:28 - INTV Salou Ibrahim, Headteacher Kurakano School – Confidence to return to school.
00:04:31 - 00:05:50 - INTV Rabiou Ousmane, Ministry for Education representative - The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Niger’s public finances.
INTV Salou Ibrahim, Headteacher Kurakano School
00:02:33 - 00:02:43 - The challenges are numerous because since the arrival of these students, I’m sure you know that in one locality there was a problem of security.
00:02:44 - 00:02:49 - The displacement is now over and the arrival of a very high number of students in the school has introduced many challenges.
00:02:50 - 00:02:59 – The problem is now mainly an issue with the structures needed to take care of these children.
00:03:00 - 00:03:04 - They have pushed up the number of students to such a level that we could not accommodate them at a certain time.
00:03:05 - 00:03:12 - Besides the social distancing measures, I should mention the issue of hygiene, which we have integrated into the school
00:03:13 - 00:03:24 - Because apart from these social distancing measures that were explained to the pupils, we were forced to look at hygiene in the school
00:03:25 - 00:03:30 - with the cleaning of the showers and the classrooms every day and the courtyard every week. We were forced to change our habits.
00:03:31 – 00:03:41 - Before, we used to clean at the end of each month, including the showers every fortnight, but after Covid, we had to explain to the children
00:03:42 - 00:03:59 - That we were forced to find another formula to accompany the social distancing measures, which was the question of hygiene, the cleaning of the latrines and the rooms.
00:04:00 - 00:04:12 - When we talked about the disease, there was a lockdown, people were very afraid, but with the equipment put in place
00:04:13 - 00:04:28 - The pupils went back to school with confidence and certainty that this disease can be avoided by respecting all the measures that were mandated.
INTV Rabiou Ousmane, Ministry for Education representative
00:04:31 - 00:04:42 Although the number of deaths and Covid cases is less significant than in other countries
00:04:43 - 00:04:53 In 2020 Niger experienced more than a month and a half of closures of all establishments
00:04:54 - 00:05:03 As well as drastic restrictions on the functioning of administrations that greatly slowed the pace of reform.
00:05:04 - 00:05:16 The pandemic has also had a significant impact on Niger's public finances
00:05:17 - 00:05:23 With budgets for the sector being revised downwards from mid-2020.
00:05:24 - 00:05:50 Thanks to GPE funds, important work has been done, particularly on grades considered to be sensitive, i.e. the first, second and third grades, to support Niger's response plan in terms of education.