As I'm sure you already know, educational opportunities are far from equal around the world. For Aissa, a 15-year old from Niger, a failed entrance exam meant that she would be unable to attend school.
Desire to learn
"I failed the entrance exam for secondary school twice and the rules are that if you fail twice you have to leave school," Aissa said. She was determined to lift herself and her family out of poverty by continuing her education.
"I tried really hard. It isn't that I don't know the subjects but we had to memorize everything...When I get into the exam I become confused and cannot remember the work," she said.
Instead of offering a continuous assessment, schools use an entrance exam to test students. Those who are unable to pass are forced to leave school.
A dream emerges
Aissa's family is one of many that are affected by the Sahel Food Crisis. As a result, her father left for Nigeria in search of work after continuous crop failures.
When Aissa went to Nigeria with her parents, she became passionate about becoming a seamstress. She began learning how to sew at a tailor's shop but soon left when her mother was returning back to Niger.
Fortunately for Aissa, Plan International set up vocational schools in Dosso Region where Aissa lives. Not only does this school offer vocational training, but it also teaches sewing and academic subjects.
The only setback is the distance between Aissa's village and the Dosso town. An hour's drive separates Aissa from pursuing her dream. Additionally, the Sahel Food Crisis has made it impossible to afford the cost of travel and the school fees.
Although there are obstacles in the way, Aissa is appealing for support to learn the trade. She says, "...what I really want is to be taught how to sew and get my own machine so that I can make my own money and look after myself and my family."
Aissa's perseverance is truly inspiring. At Plan International USA, we are dedicated to fighting gender inequality, promoting girls' rights, and lifting 4 million girls out of poverty by 2016. Given a chance, girls can change the world!