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When Literacy Brings Light to Life

In the arid landscape that makes up the region of Zinder, Niger, there is a small village called Arnadi. Here, education has not been a primary focus for the community. Only 75 percent of the adult population of this region is literate, according to the most recent study. Deri Gana Nana, president of the Mothers Association (AME) in Arnadi, Zinder, was one of them.

Deri, like many of her peers, did not get the opportunity to attend school as a girl. Not being able to read or write made life difficult, but she, like others, managed to survive. Deri sold vegetables in the market and raised goats to support her family. She made sure her child was educated, but accepted her lot in life.

One day, Deri had saved enough to buy a goat that she hoped to fatten and sell for a profit. She went to the market and chose the perfect one. The vendor told her the goat was $24. She paid him and was given a receipt for the transaction, but something did not feel right. When she got home, she gave the receipt to her 12-year-old son to read. He told her that the receipt was marked $21 instead of $24. She was cheated by the vendor. That day she decided she would learn to read and write.

When the Niger Education and Community Strengthening (NECS) project started its literacy courses in March 2013, Deri saw her chance. She was the first person in Arnadi to register. The United States Agency for International Development funded project is implemented by a consortium that includes Plan International, Aide et Action, and Volontaires pour l’Intégration Educative Kande Ni Bayra. The project goals are to improve child education and strengthen community support for education, especially for girls. The project began with adult literacy classes for parent groups such as AME. Since the program started, of the 4,573 community members, 2,488 members of the parent groups have enrolled.

Deri is a dedicated student and bursts with enthusiasm when talking about the course.

“How wonderful it is to know how to read, write, and do math,” she says.

Deri now proudly tells the other people in her village about the course and encourages them to register. She is also an active supporter of education, especially for girls. She wants the girls and women in her village to be able to hold their heads high and not to be taken advantage of because they cannot read.

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