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Improving girls’ chances of education in Niger

Many students in Niger must attend classes in straw classrooms, known as hangers, that do not protect children from the sun, rain, heat or cold.
Many students in Niger must attend classes in straw classrooms, known as hangers, that do not protect children from the sun, rain, heat or cold.
School construction is just one aspect of an innovative new project, led by Plan, to improve the quality of education in Niger and, specifically, to increase enrollment of girls in school.
School construction is just one aspect of an innovative new project, led by Plan, to improve the quality of education in Niger and, specifically, to increase enrollment of girls in school.

On edge of the Sahara desert in Niger, home to the last wild giraffes of West Africa, Plan is starting an exciting new project to bring more girls to school and to keep them there.

Only 38.4% of girls in Niger enroll in secondary school; the majority never makes it past 5th grade. In an effort to combat this problem, Plan has created the IMAGINE project (IMprove the EducAtion of Girls In Niger).

The goal of the project is to increase the number of girls who enroll and stay in primary schools in rural areas of Niger. Plan implemented a similar program in Burkina Faso, which was very successful, and is hoping to have the same impact in Niger.

What exactly is a girl friendly school?

A girl-friendly school meets the needs of children, but especially the needs of girls. For example, while girls in the United States can safely assume they will have at least one bathroom designated for them at their schools, girls in Niger often do not have a latrine at all — much less one designated for female privacy. These small things we take for granted can be what keep girls in countries like Niger from going to school.

Two types of activities will help transform schools into girl-friendly ones: construction and education support.

  • Construction: In three years of the IMAGINE project, Plan’s goal is to construct 68 permanent schools with over 200 classrooms; build latrines for both girls and boys, boreholes for water, teacher’s lodging, schools canteens, and daycare centers.
  • Education support: To compliment the structures, the IMAGINE project will train over 1,800 teachers, provide school lunches, instruct school management committees in the maintenance of facilities and administration of local action plans, provide literacy training to 3,000 school management committee members, and provide income-generating activities to over 6,000 women.

A small example of how IMAGINE can help

One of the schools benefiting from the IMAGINE project is located two hours from Plan’s office in the capital of Niamey. It was at this school, in the village of Boulbole Goumande (population of 1,763) where Janella Nelson, Basic Education Adviser for Plan USA, observed firsthand the impact of Plan’s involvement.