Mothers Take Initiative in Nigerien School
The school director in Makéra Guidan Djibo, in south-central Niger, was especially moved by the latest gesture to support his school. It was not a large grant or a new classroom. It was a small but meaningful gift, because it came from the mothers of his students.
The members of the town’s Mothers Association (AME) had started coming to school each day to verify the attendance of all the village’s children. These visits are part of the school action plan, created and carried out by school and community members working in concert. This action plan was developed with the support of the Niger Education and Community Strengthening (NECS) Project, funded by the United States Agency for International Developmentand the Millennium Challenge Corporation, and implemented by Plan International. NECS also provided training for the AME in organizational management, increasing its ability to work together with the school.
In the course of these visits, the mothers realized that the school lacked some simple but essential equipment: buckets and cups! Water is needed for cleaning blackboards and for hygiene, meaning the absence of these supplies was felt both in the classroom and in the general school environment. The mothers realized that without this equipment, students would frequently have to leave class to get water, disrupting their learning. On making this discovery, the mothers of Makéra Guidan Djibo’s students met to discuss their response. Their decision to collect money from their members and buy the materials was appreciated by the school director and students alike. The AME’s President, Salamatou Abdoulaye, described the result: “We wanted to contribute to improving hygiene in the school and to reduce the time that students spent out of class searching for water.”
Collecting money to buy materials for the school was not part of the AME’s original plan – and it showed that the training provided by NECS was effective in preparing the mothers to organize themselves in response to new problems. Despite a high level of poverty in the village, these mothers valued their children’s education enough to invest in creating a better school environment. By encouraging parents to place high value on education and supporting strong community organizations, NECS is promoting sustainable progress toward better education for Nigerien children.
Sustainable progress happens when people act to improve their own community. The mothers of Makéra Guidan Djibo just want their children to stay in class and to feel at ease in school – so they have every opportunity to learn and thrive.