In Benin, a community goes into agriculture to pay for children's school fees

Photo credit: Vincent-Reynaud Lacroze

In Nikki commune, several children have had to drop out of school due to the lack of means of their families, who are unable to pay for their school fees. To avoid this injustice, Aide et Action is supporting the community in developing income generating activities. The creation of a soybean field is now helping them to get by!

As surprising as it may seem, a field of soya can save the schooling of several children! In fact, in Benin, in the commune of Nikki, Aide et Action has helped several families facing financial difficulties and it is thanks to the cultivation of soya beans that their lives have improved in the long run.

The Education Quality Improvement Project implemented by our association is a response to support the development of the public school in Sarawodo. In 2018, the school had only 100 students (51 girls and 49 boys) and a preschool (opened in 2015) with 38 children. In order to enable the community to take control of the destiny of their school, a School Development Project (SDP) was developed and implemented.

Reducing school fees to prevent drop-out

On that occasion, it was noted that the school's poor enrolment could be partly explained by the fact that several students were being sent away because of non-payment of fees. Some of these students did not return at all, thus ending their education early. To address this issue, ECD enabled the School Management Committee to move towards the creation of a 1.25 ha soybean field in 2020 to mobilise new financial resources.

The field initiative allowed for the cultivation of soybeans, the sale of which generated 315,000 CFA francs for the community. An amount of 150,000 CFA was taken for the payment of the community teacher's salary and 40,000 CFA for the purchase of condiments and other expenses for the school canteen. The rest of the financial resources will be used to prepare the field for the 2021 campaign and for possible expenses.

This approach is the sustainable way in which the School Management Committee plans to keep children in school. Thus, registration fees will be reduced to a strict minimum and this will allow poor parents to bear the costs of their children's schooling. From now on, no child will be at risk of dropping out of school due to lack of payment.

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