In the Central West region of Burkina Faso, socio-cultural constraints are not conducive to the success of girls in school. Through the “Scolarisation des Filles” (SCOLFILLES) project (meaning schooling of girls), Action Education and the L’Occitane Foundation have decided to strengthen the access, retention and completion of primary education for 2000 girls. 

In order to bring about a sustainable change in the lives of girls in Burkina Faso, the L’Occitane Foundation and Action Education, long-time partners, have made a commitment to girls’ schooling through the SCOLFILLES project. The project will promote the access of vulnerable girls to primary school and their retention in the Ziro and Sissili provinces in the Central West region of Burkina Faso. Our joint ambition is to support more than 2000 girls on the road to academic success.

A difficult context, particularly for girls

In Burkina Faso, primary school enrolment indicators have dropped considerably between 2017 and 2020. This decline can be explained in particular by the socio-political and security situation that the country is currently facing. Indeed, the crisis has led to the closure of more than 2000 schools and the internal displacement of more than one million people, including 585,728 young people under the age of 14.

In addition, an analysis of socio-cultural realities in the Central West Region reveals perceptions and practices that are not conducive to girls succeeding in school. For many families, their schooling continues to be viewed as unimportant, and the persistence of certain traditional practices such as dowries, abductions and gender-based violence do not improve the situation. Finally, the lack of consideration for the specific problems inherent to their status within schools is an additional obstacle. 

Providing an appropriate response 

Thanks to our project, girls of schoolgoing age will be enrolled in the first grade, girls who are at risk of dropping out of school before the end of the cycle will be supported, and older girls who are not enrolled in school (or who dropped out early) will be able to benefit from an innovative system of accelerated classes, accumulating the modules of the first three years of primary school over a period of nine months, and thus directly enter the third grade.

Schooling costs such as annual fees and supplies will be covered, and the children’s diet in the schools will be improved by supporting the running of their school canteen. In addition, we want to encourage families living in extreme poverty to increase their income through subsidies and intermediation with micro-credit institutions. 

Removing obstacles to girls’ schooling 

Within the framework of our intervention, approximately 180 teachers will be trained to enable the implementation of specific remedial courses for the beneficiaries. Finally, awareness-raising sessions for communities and girls will be conducted in order to remove obstacles to their schooling (early marriages and pregnancies, reluctance of family and friends, self-censorship, etc.) and to lift the taboo associated with menstruation (distribution of sanitary protection, rehabilitation or construction of latrines in schools, etc.). 

The five-year project is part of our « Education for Women Now » movement, which aims to promote various educational projects for 3 million marginalised women and girls worldwide by 2025. 

The project will reach 2810 direct beneficiaries in Burkina Faso, including 2000 girls, 180 teachers, 630 members of community school co-management bodies and 500 families. The support provided by the L’Occitane Foundation has given our teams the means to make a lasting difference in order to offer new opportunities for the future to Burkinabe girls. 

Kristen Poels