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Burkina Faso: Burkinabé Response to Improve Girls’ Chances to Succeed I & II

The BRIGHT (Burkinabé Response to Improve Girls’ Chances to Succeed) project was implemented to improve access to quality education for girls in Burkina Faso. The project involved building 132 girl-friendly school complexes, strengthening local partners’ capacities, and mobilizing local communities in 10 provinces with the lowest girls’ education rate among the country’s 45 provinces.

$12,900,000 (BRIGHT I); $22,500,000 (BRIGHT II)
Project Dates
March 2006 to September 2008 (BRIGHT I); October 2009 to July 2012 (BRIGHT II)
Technical Areas Covered
Education; Water and Sanitation in Schools

In addition, the project incorporated food programs, including school canteens and take-home rations, as well as literacy training for adults in the communities, particularly for mothers of students. These activities were conceived to increase both the supply of and demand for primary education, particularly for girls. The approaches involved community participation in the construction of the school complexes, mentoring of school girls, and food management. Round I was funded by the Millennium Challenge Corporation/ United States Agency for International Development Threshold program for Burkina Faso, and round II by the MCC/USAID Compact program for Burkina Faso. Both BRIGHT rounds were implemented by a Plan-led consortium of partners that included Catholic Relief Services, the Forum of African Women’s Educationalists, and Tin Tua.

During BRIGHT I, Plan constructed 132 girl-friendly school complexes, each with three fully-furnished classrooms, a water source, separate latrines for girls and boys, and housing for three teachers, across 10 provinces. The new structures, combined with community mobilization, helped the project accomplish a 20 percent increase in enrolment in the BRIGHT schools. Efforts to promote girls’ access were so successful, girls’ enrolment was actually 4.6 percent higher than that of boys by the end of BRIGHT I activities! In addition, students in BRIGHT schools had higher average test scores than in other schools.

An external impact evaluation of BRIGHT I found impacts on enrolment and test scores that were “larger than those of typical education interventions in developing countries” and that BRIGHT’s approach “may serve as a model for policymakers who are interested in improving these outcomes in similar contexts.” Indeed, the government of Burkina Faso adopted BRIGHT’s model of school design as the national standard.

BRIGHT II built on the success of BRIGHT I, aiming to support the same girls and boys through the remainder of their primary schooling. The overall goal of BRIGHT II was to help improve girls’ primary school completion rates by providing the 132 BRIGHT schools with classrooms for grades 4 to 6. In addition, BRIGHT II sought to improve retention rates and completion of girls’ schooling through:

  • The construction of additional boreholes, water catchment systems, and kindergartens, including playgrounds and equipment;
  • The provision of daily meals during the school year for an estimated 13,000 children;
  • Building community capacity and commitment to contribute to the success of the school and the students, including through adult literacy and training on micro-projects management.

The results of BRIGHT II show success on many fronts. The project removed many barriers to girls’ success in school, such as by offering kindergarten for young children to reduce the burden of child care, often the responsibility of school-age girls. In addition, community mobilization activities such as literacy training, improved school management, and the provision of take-home rations, led to more parents sending their girls to school and creating the environment, both in school and at home, for them to succeed. Teachers also noted improved working conditions, the housing they were provided, and awareness campaigns in the communities about the importance of girls’ education, as positive factors.

Together, these factors contributed to notable improvements in student achievement, particularly for girls. Before the final year of the project, 96 percent of girls and 95 percent of boys in BRIGHT schools successfully advanced to the next grade, compared with the national average of 88 percent and 87 percent, respectively. In addition, on the final Primary School Certificate exam, 66 percent of girls from BRIGHT schools passed – with a 100 percent success rate in 17 of the schools – against 58 percent of girls in other schools in the same provinces.

According to a community member of Tongomaël village: "With everything done as awareness and literacy in our area, the community tend to think that BRIGHT schools are special schools compared to other schools. Therefore, the life of the school is much discussed by the community at every opportunity and the majority of people enroll their children, both girls and boys, in these schools."

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