Photo credit : Dramane Sessouma/AEA
In Burkina Faso, socio-cultural barriers slow down girls’ access to education. Through the “Scolarisation des Filles” (SCOLFILLE) project, Action Education and L’OCCITANE Foundation are enabling 1,872 girls aged 9 to 13 to go back to school.
Nathalie Kontogma is 13 years old. She stopped going to school because her parents refused to re-enrol her because she is a girl. She fled her village to the nearest town where she was employed as a housekeeper and later as a waitress in a bar. Back in her village, she learned that a SCOLFILLE project centre had just opened to give girls the chance to continue their education.
“I came to enrol myself. I am learning very well. I can read and calculate. I am very happy because I will be able to get my Primary School Certificate and go to secondary school. I will work hard to succeed in order to become an independent woman” she explains.
Like Nathalie, many girls in Burkina Faso do not attend school or drop out early. There are many reasons for this: little consideration of the importance of girls’ schooling, parental poverty, early marriages, low self-esteem among girls, the importance of the household burdens that girls are generally subject to…
Action Education’s SCOLFILLE project focuses on the two provinces – the Ziro and the Sissili – particularly in 6 municipalities in the Centre-West region of the country. It is based on the establishment of bridging classes in public primary schools. After a year of accelerated learning, the participants return to the general education system to continue their studies. The project provides facilitators, school furniture, teaching and learning materials, and school supplies for the students. School fees are covered and support for student catering is provided.
Being born a girl should not be a handicap
Information and awareness meetings are held in the six communes of the project. Awareness-raising radio spots are broadcast in the three most widely spoken languages in the intervention zone (Mooré, Nuni and French). Since the project started, there has been a greater involvement of community leaders. Little by little, thanks to the increasingly active participation of the communities in the social mobilisation sessions, the socio-cultural perception of girls’ education is improving.
Unlike her two brothers, 13-year-old Rakiatou Konaté did not attend school. Her father preferred to send her to Ouagadougou to work as a domestic helper. “I didn’t go to school. I helped my aunt sell food. My father said he couldn’t afford it” explains Rakiatou. In 2021, her father died and she returned to her village with her mother. Thanks to the SCOLFILLE project, Rakiatou was enrolled in the To centre (one of the project’s target municipalities) with her mother’s agreement. “I am happy. I would like to study and become a shopkeeper” she says.
In Métio, one of the villages of the Sissili province also concerned by the project, the President of the Village Development Committee says: “The SCOLFILLE project has already produced a concrete result: girls have returned to school with the hope of continuing their studies”.
The centre’s coordinator, Ousmane Nébié, is confident: “Progress is good. If the pupils attend classes regularly, we will finish the programme and they will be able to return to the classic system”.
The SCOLFILLE project is an integral part of the great global movement Education For Women Now initiated by Action Education, which aims at enabling 3 million of the most vulnerable and marginalized girls and women to have access to quality education in Africa, Asia and Europe by 2025.