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Clubs help girls stay in school and succeed in Burkina Faso

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©UNICEF video
Despite financial difficulties, Ramata Kaboré, shown here with her cousins, was able to return to school with help from Club FAWE.

By Jean-Jacques Nduita

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso, 13 July 2007 – Alice is in a good mood because she has received a high grade in French class. “It is very important to learn in order to understand what surrounds us,” she tells her friends during a break between classes.

There was a time, however, when Alice was an unlikely candidate for success at school. At the age of 10, when her father died, she was about to graduate from her fifth year of primary school. Without the necessary financial support, she had to stay at home for two years before going back to school.

“My mother was living in total poverty after my father passed away,” she recalls. “After the death of my father, she cried every day. My father’s family was not so good to her. In that situation, how could we talk to her about the school’s fees?”

Making a dream possible

At the time, no one seemed concerned about Alice’s schooling. Conventional wisdom said that as a teenage girl, she should look for a job and think about marriage. But Alice did not agree. She wanted to continue going to school. It was her dream.

“I will never drop my objective of going to school in order to get knowledge to become useful to my country,” she says, adding that she wants to become a diplomat.

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© UNICEF video
Girls' clubs in Burkina Faso help them succeed in school with the support of the Association for Women’s Education.

As Alice wondered what to do about her family’s financial situation and her dream of an education, she shared her problem with a friend. That’s when she heard about a club organized by the Association of Women Educationists (FAWE) and all the opportunities the club could offer her as a girl in difficulty.

With UNICEF support and US cooperation, FAWE has set up clubs in every high school in Ouagadougou to provide counselling, mentoring and vocational training for girls. The girls are trained by a woman, usually a teacher, who encourages them to feel free to talk about their problems. In this way, they can develop the confidence and skills required to achieve their objectives.

Club FAWE supported Alice and made it possible for her to go back to school.

The right to education

Meeting women who have finished their studies and gotten good jobs inspires the FAWE girls like Alice to take their studies seriously.

“Many girls stop going to school because of lack of money and information about how important an education is,” says Prisca Roumba, another club member.

The girls in the clubs make soap and other products for sale, and the money generated from these activities is used to help them finish their studies. The clubs also prepare girls to get jobs after they leave school, easing the difficult period of transition between the end of their education and the time they gain employment.

Education is a source of joy for FAWE girls. Remaining in school and completing their education successfully becomes even more inspiring after they have a better understanding of the stakes involved. They are now ready to defy all odds in order to defend their right to education.

“I will do my best to send my daughters to school, whatever the price,” says Alice.


 

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Video
UNICEF correspondent Anwulika Okafor reports on how girls’ clubs in Burkina Faso help them succeed in school.

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