Girls' schooling: a priority for Niger - UNICEF and partners committed for a back-to-school without gender disparities

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Do not turn off the light in our eyes, do not trample on our dreams © UNICEF Niger/2019/Islamane

Juan Haro

Niger has made significant progress since 2001 in expanding access to education, particularly girls and adolescents. Being able to go to school has now become a reality for many children in Niger. The reality shows how opportunities for girls continue to expand aiming to unlock the potential of the country´s future. However, despite the important legal achievements in terms of equity, disparities remain unsolved.

"For the schooling of girls, I commit myself personally. I particularly commend this initiative as it aims to encourage communities to define and carry out their own actions for the education of their children'' said Dr. Malika Issoufou First Lady of the Republic of Niger.

"I encourage this inclusive approach that promotes the aspirations, ideas, and talent of girls in a social transformation perspective for the happiness of all in the near future'' she affirmed.

Girls continue to face extremely reduced chances to access education. In Niger, 56.3% of girls and 50.1% of boys aged 7 to 16 are out of school. Girls are deprived of their right to education and do not acquire the knowledge and skills they need to realize their potential throughout their lives.

In this context, UNICEF, in partnership with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the Government of Niger, the Government of the Kingdom of Norway, the Technical and Financial Partners, NGOs, civil society and communities, joined efforts to organize regional forums in Niger with a firm goal: schooling girls and reducing inequalities.

"A recent survey conducted by the Ministry of Primary Education to count school-aged children in 35 communes revealed that more than 53,000 children, including nearly 31,000 girls, are not at school." said Dr. Daouda Mamadou Marthé, Minister of Primary Education, Literacy, Promotion of National Languages and Civic Education.

"These forums will constitute a platform for exchange, consultation and commitment between the different actors in the development of education at the community level, through the Management Committees of School Establishments (CGDES) and the Mother Associations. Educators (AME)," explained Obata Eihiko, JICA Representative in Niger.

In addition, the Representative of the Government of the Kingdom of Norway affirmed that "it is not only the current generation, it is also the future of Niger's next generation"

‘’The introduction of an innovative new community-led approach to achieve a massive enrollment of girls in the first year of primary school is the main focus of our meeting today. Every girl, wherever she is, whoever she is, and whatever the circumstances in which she lives, deserves an environment that will allow her to access a quality education, keep her at school and benefit from the support of all stakeholders, starting with the community itself ’’ said UNICEF Representative in Niger, Felicite Tchibindat, during the launch ceremony.

Niger cannot develop its economic potential without making sure that half of its population (children under 15) has the opportunity to go to school and to contribute to the development of their families, their communities and their country.

For every girl in Niger, the right to education!

This initiative is generously supported by the JICA and the Government of the Kingdom of Norway