Insecurity and terrorism: sacrificing the right to education
4 February 2022

Growing insecurity in Burkina Faso and Mali has led to the closure of hundreds of schools, especially 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 under threat. Faced with this situation, Aide et Action is adapting its programmes to guarantee access for all, both girls and boys, to education as a source of salvation and resilience.

As of 31 December 2021, more than 3,200 schools, especially at the primary and secondary levels, were closed in Burkina Faso due to terrorist attacks and/or threats. More than 511,220 pupils have thus been deprived of education. The Sahel region, bordering Mali and Niger, has the highest number of closed schools (28.90%), followed by the eastern region (24,72 %)[1].  It is in this region that Aide et Action is taking action through its programme “Together for State Education which is Resilient in the wake of 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 in the face of the security crisis, further aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the food and nutrition crisis in the region. Aide et Action accompanies populations that have fled from conflicts, Burkina Faso has more than one million displaced people, 60% of whom are children with specific educational needs.

Welcoming displaced children

Repeated attacks on schools have created a great deal of anxiety, even in areas not affected by  attacks, and have led to a significant drop in national school 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 l’Occitane Foundation, 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 offer them to complete the first three years of primary school in 9 months, and to join the 2nd grade class directly (from the 2nd year of schooling) as well as remedial courses for those at risk of dropping out.

“Community bridging people”in Mali

Since 2015 the politico-security crisis that Mali has been experiencing,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 Project Access to Education for All Children in Mali(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,”community bridging people”, men and women who are important members of the community, are mobilised and trained to go and meet families and raise their awareness on the importance of education. They explain the incentive measures put in place by Aide et Action to motivate school enrolment, namely the provision of school supplies and school uniforms, payment of birth certificates if the family does not have them, and payment of enrolment 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 bridging people” have thus re-enrolled 5,663 6–7-year-oldsin 190 host schools. The success of the project is such that schools have sometimes become too small to accommodate all children. The project now provides school furniture and builds new classrooms.

[1]Data provided by Technical Administration Of Education in Emergency Situation (SP-ESU) of Burkina Faso

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