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Benin: Newsline

Fourth ‘All Girls to School’ campaign launches in Benin

©UNICEF Benin/2008/Amouzouvi
First Lady of Benin Chantal de Souza Yayi is joined by officials and children during the launch of the 2008 'All Girls to School' campaign in Toviklin.

TOVIKLIN, Benin, 22 October 2008 – “We want to go to school, achieve primary education, and go forward in order to become ministers, civil servants, teachers, physicians, top executives,” sang 12 young girls from Toviklin, a rural town in the southwest of Benin.

The girls were participating in the recent launch ceremony for the country’s fourth ‘All Girls to School’ campaign.

The objective of the campaign is to raise awareness among community leaders, parents, traditional chiefs, the media and children themselves about the vital importance of sending all children – both girls and boys – to school.

Expressing gratitude

For the first time, the First Lady of Benin, Chantal de Souza Yayi,, presided over the ceremony. She was joined by representatives from the education sector as well as singer and UNICEF Benin Goodwill Ambassador Zeynab Habib.

Speaking in French and Fon, one of the main local languages, Ms. Yayi expressed her gratitude to all partners supporting the education system.

For the past five years, access to education in Benin has been improving for girls and boys alike. However, school retention rates are still very low, and discrepancies have been observed between urban and rural areas.

Mobile outreach caravan

“Because education has positive advantages and is a key cornerstone in achieving the other Millennium Development Goals, we must continue to call for education for all,” said UNICEF Representative in Benin Dr. Souleymane Diallo.

The country’s Minister of Pre-school and Primary Education, Christine Ouinsavi, presented plans for a new mobile outreach programme in the form of a caravan that will tour major rural districts where girls’ enrolment and attendance rates are still low.

The First Lady hailed the programme as an initiative that will help mobilize villages and significantly contribute to the success of the campaign.

‘Our rallying cry’

Ms. Ouinsavi stressed the need for parents to send their daughters to school. She noted that education would improve not only the well-being of the girls themselves, but also the prosperity of families, communities and the entire nation.

In fact, UNICEF has found that girls’ education is a catalyst for social development and economic growth. It is an investment that makes sense for girls; for every additional year of education beyond primary school, a woman’s potential income increases by 15 per cent. And education benefits the wider society in which girls live.

“'All Girls to School' is our rallying cry,” declared Ms. Ouinsavi.

Expressing her personal commitment to girls’ education, the minister said she would come back and visit families in Toviklin to make sure that their daughters are attending school.


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