Growing insecurity in Burkina Faso and Mali has led to the closure of hundreds of schools, particularly in areas controlled by terrorists, and a drop in school attendance in other regions. The future of thousands of children, now deprived of their right to education, is threatened. Faced with this situation, Aide et Action is adapting its programs to guarantee access to education for all, girls and boys, which is a source of resilience.
As of 31 December 2021, more than 3,200 schools, including primary and secondary schools, were closed in Burkina Faso due to terrorist attacks and/or threats. More than 511,220 pupils are thus deprived of education. The Sahel region, on the border with Mali and Niger, has the highest number of closed schools (28.90 %), followed by the East region (24.72 %). It is in this region that Aide et Action is intervening through its program "Ensemble pour une Education Publique Résiliente face aux crises" (EEPR). This program aims at providing education in 120 safe and protective schools to more than 18,000 children and increasing the resilience of their families faced with the security crisis, further aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the food and nutrition crisis in the region. Aide et Action is supporting populations that have fled the conflicts in Burkina Faso, where there are more than one million displaced people, including 60% children with specific educational needs.
Welcoming displaced children
Repeated attacks on schools have caused great anxiety, even in areas not affected by the attacks, and have led to a significant decline in national enrolment indicators. Restoring confidence in education and demonstrating its benefits is therefore a top priority to ensure that children, especially girls, are re-enrolled and kept in school. Carried out with the Fondation l'Occitane, the Scolfille project aims at strengthening access, retention and completion of primary education for more than 2,000 girls in the provinces of Ziro and Sissili. Aide et Action has set up accelerated curricula for girls who have never been to school: we propose that they complete the first three years of primary school in 9 months, and that they join the CE2 class directly (from the 2nd grade).ème year of schooling) as well as support courses for those at risk of dropping out.
Community relays" in Mali
The politico-security crisis that Mali has been experiencing since 2015 has led to the closure of more than 500 schools, resulting in thousands of children being deprived of their right to quality education. Faced with this threat, Aide et Action and its partners have set up the Access to Education for All Children in Mali Project (PACETEM). This project aims at facilitating the schooling of 27,674 children, including 14,160 out-of-school children from vulnerable families in Mopti, Djenné, San, Tominian and Yangasso. At the heart of the project, the "community relays", men and women who are important members of the community, are mobilised and trained to go and meet families and raise their awareness of the importance of education. They explain the incentives that Aide et Action has put in place to motivate families to enroll in school, namely the provision of school supplies and school uniforms, the payment of birth certificates if the family does not have them, and the payment of registration fees for the first year of school. After the school opens, their mission is to identify pupils who are absent, playing in the street or working, and to talk to their families in order to fight against school drop-out. In 2019-2020, 280 "community relays" have thus re-enrolled 5,663 6-7 year olds in 190 host schools. The success of the project is such that the schools have sometimes become too small to accommodate all the children. The project now provides school furniture and builds new classrooms.