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Closing the gaps: Canada donates $7 million (Cdn) to support girls’ education in Niger

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© UNICEF Niger / Juan Haro

by Lalaina Fatratra Andriamasinoro

The Government of Canada has donated $7 million (cdn) (US$5.2 million) to UNICEF to be used over the next three years to enhance and promote girls' education, improve access and educational outcomes for girls and women, especially those affected by conflict, crises and fragility. More than 220,000 girls from the regions of Maradi, Zinder, Dosso, Diffa, Tahoua and Tillabéry will directly benefit from this new funding support.

“Being able to go to school is now a reality for many more children in Niger than in the past. Nonetheless, education levels remain exceptionally low and gender parity in school a distant objective. This new funding will help us accelerate Niger’s efforts to close the gaps. We are profoundly grateful that Canada has once again committed to the children of Niger” says Félicité Tchibindat, UNICEF Representative in Niger.

The country has made significant progress in expanding access to education. Nevertheless, Niger’s education system continues to face severe internal efficiency, quality and exclusion issues. According to recent survey, more than 2.6 million children aged 7 to 16 (53%) were still out of school in the country. An urban boy is three times more likely to be in school compared to a girl in a rural area. The enrollment rate in junior secondary education remains particularly low, with only 32% for girls. Poverty, practices like early marriage and unconducive learning environment are a major barrier to girls’ access to quality education in Niger.

Through this new funding support, UNICEF will work with Government, partners and communities to accelerate efforts – even in the most challenging settings. UNICEF and its partners will work to strengthen leadership and management of the education system, with a focus on improving the quality of education.

To ensure that all children, especially girls, have access to quality education, UNICEF will support pre-primary, primary, lower secondary and non-formal education centres to offer inclusive and gender-sensitive education. In areas affected by crisis, UNICEF will work with schools and communities to ensure continuity of education. At the community level, families and communities will be mobilized to create and sustain demand for their children’s education.

This funding support will cover the regions of Maradi, Zinder, Dosso, where there are the widest gender gaps and the emergency-affected regions of Diffa, Tahoua and Tillabéry.