As a testament to the seriousness with which both parents and young girls respond to the opportunity for an education in northern Burkina Faso, a full 100% of primary school girls supported by the Lambs for School Project succeeded in their first trimester exams this school year. As indicated in earlier updates, girls supported by this project have consistently outperformed their classmates at all levels.
We are re-naming the Education for 900 Rural Girls in Burkina Faso Project the Lambs for School Project, reflecting the locally conceived and very successful strategy for engaging parents in the support of their daughters’ education. This strategy was and is to provide 6-year old village girls with the basic necessities that allow them to enter village primary school plus a lamb (at a total cost of $90). The girls and their parents raise the lambs and sell them each year in order to buy school materials for the following year and a new lamb, this for the following 12 years of primary, middle and secondary school. This project is the key which enables young village girls to enter school and get an education instead of being married off at an early age with no education and without their consent.
In a region where culture has not been very supportive of the education of girls in the past, and where extreme poverty means that parents are unable to pay the basic cost of sending their daughters to school, both village chiefs and parents are asking in ever increasing numbers for help in enrolling their daughters in primary school.
This year, in collaboration with two generous partners, we were able to send 13 Lambs for School village girls who graduated from secondary school to training in primary school teaching, nursing, midwifery and one to the university to study law.
Given the phenomenal educational success of these girls and the great demand for increasing girls’ educational opportunity expressed by many villages in the region, NEEED (the local NGO that runs this project) is asking us to increase the number of girls we support next year from 300 to 400. The girls and their parents will do the rest: the girls will continue to work hard and succeed in school; and the parents will raise and sell their daughters’ lambs to support their educational needs, and encourage their daughters to do their very best in school.
These girls, like Ouedraogo Abibata (see photo) are counting on all of us, their partners, to give them a chance at an education.
"There is no tool for development more effective than the education of girls". Kofi Annon, former U.N. Secretary General
Our sincere thanks to our generous GlobalGiving partners for your donations to the Education for 900 Rural Girls in Burkina Faso Project. With your continuing support, we will be able to send another 300 six-year old village girls in northern Burkina Faso to primary school this year. Villagers in this region are indigent farmers and are unable to send their daughters to school. Initial donor support enables these girls to enter school after which their parents commit to raise and sell their lambs each year in order to support their daughters’ educations for the following 12 years.
These girls continue to do very well in school. This table shows percentages of girls supported by the Education for 900 Rural Girls in Burkina Faso (also known as the Lambs for School Project) who have passed the exit exam at the end of primary school and qualified to go on to middle school in comparison to the percentage of all primary school students in northern Burkina.
2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
Lambs for School 80.6 80.1 79.3 81.2 82.9 84.4 87.8 86.3
All children 62.4 64.6 64.2 63.2 65.7 66.3 68.0 65.1
These students continue to do very well in middle and secondary school as well. The passing rate for girls supported by the Lambs for School Project is consistently almost double that of all other middle school students in the region.
I am happy to share with you that NEEED (the local organization that runs this project) is implementing a post secondary training/education project this fall for village girls who successfully complete secondary school. Thus, at least some of the girls who have entered primary school through the Education for 900 Rural Girls in Burkina Faso/Lambs for School Project and who have now successfully completed secondary school will have a chance to receive primary school teacher training, nursing or midwifery training, or a university education. NEEED, with support of its partners, will provide as many scholarships each year as funds allow to these secondary school graduates. Thanks to several generous partners, Friends of Burkina Faso is providing 13 scholarships this year to: nine (9) girls in primary school teacher training, two (2) girls in diploma nursing training, one (1) girl in State nursing training, and one (1) girl who will attend the University of Ouagadougou and study law. All of these girls are from rural farming families and 10 are orphans. THUS, AT LEAST SOME OF THE VILLAGE GIRLS YOU HAVE SUPPORTED WHO AT AGE 6 HAD NO HOPE OF EVEN ENTERING SCHOOL WILL NOW BECOME EDUCATORS, NURSES AND A LAWYER! THANK YOU FOR BEING A PART OF THIS!
I hope you find your partnership with these girls valuable and worthwhile. I know the economy is tough, and I thank you for investing your hard-earned money on the hard-working young women in northern Burkina Faso. Please consider telling your friends and family about the Education for 900 Rural Girls in Burkina Faso Project - share the link on your blogs or social networks, use the tell-a-friend feature on the project page to email your network, or just bring us up in conversation. You know your friends and family best, so use your own words - tell them why you chose this project and what it means to you. If you need additional information, please contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you again for giving these bright and hard working girls an opportunity to make a difference in their lives, their communities and their nation.
Most sincerely, Suzanne Plopper
"There is no tool for development more effective than the education of girls". Kofi Annon, former U.N. Secretary General
Supporters of the Lambs for School Project recently returned from a visit to Burkina Faso and shared the following - slightly edited - account of their visit:
The old cliché, “we saved the best for last” captures our recent experience in Burkina Faso perfectly! We traveled for 2 weeks before visiting a school where girls are supported by Friends of Burkina Faso (the Lambs for School Project). The two weeks of travel allowed us to become familiar with the culture, history, natural resources, and the complex needs of West Africa.
Three of us visited the primary school in Tilli. The greeting we received upon arrival rivaled any experienced by major dignitaries! The children were encircling the flagpole with teachers and Headmaster. As soon as we got out of the car, they surrounded us with outstretched hands in an overwhelming show of warmth and greeting. My eyes filled with tears --- the emotion cannot be put into words. I could not imagine how they had been prepared to meet us, but clearly they had immediate trust and wanted to welcome us in the most loving way. They quickly resumed their positions around the flag when the Headmaster called to them and as one boy slowly raised the flag, the school community sang the national anthem. It was sung with sincere, solemn, and proud voices. It was very moving.
We were asked, by words and gesture, to join the circle where three chairs were readied for us. Many introductions followed including the request that we introduce ourselves. Lacine (NEEED project coordinator) had briefly introduced us as being part of Friends of Burkina Faso and the Lambs for School Project. The 30 girls who were recipients of lambs wore their uniforms which included tee shirts that say Association NEEED on them. More introductions followed with the regional director of primary education speaking briefly about the goals and needs of the schools. Lacine spoke to the needs at Tilli and the schools in general that NEEED supports. I felt a little like an Imposter in view of all the work and contributions that have been generated by your group but I put that aside and said to myself, “”Be a good ambassador for the “real” FBF people”. I was very proud to represent you! Finally the village chief spoke saying, “We have been told that we have friends in the United States, now we see you”. There are no words to describe my feelings at his simple eloquence.
Next we were shown classrooms that need to be replaced. They are inadequate in all ways: roof not protective in wind and rain; too small with girls seated 5 to a desk/bench that at best would seat 3; overcrowded requiring some to sit on the floor. The teacher had three blackboards with math and French lessons printed. Water is needed and the water table has dropped drastically within recent years with the average well being 110 feet now. This depth cannot be hand dug which is a big problem.
We walked out from the classrooms back into that sweltering Burkina Faso sunlight. A flurry of activity erupted: the girls had brought their lambs to show us! The lambs baa’d and bleated, and for a moment, all I could think of was the nursery rhyme, “Mary had a Little Lamb,” and I began to think that lambs made these “Mary’s” very, very fortunate. The children returned to their classrooms and we were able to share the school supplies that we brought with us, wishing it could have been 500 times more. Again, wordlessly we were moved to yet another location. Imagine our astonishment when we were presented with two live chickens and it was made clear that each of us should hold the chickens high and pose for photos!! Another honor for which there is no equal in my life!
Suzanne, the work that Friends of Burkina Faso is doing is so valuable, every effort is so important, and every kindness is so APPRECIATED! You have my utmost respect.
Thank you for all of your help in making the connections with NEEED possible. Thanks also for your kind advice about sitting, listening and not asking too many questions. It allowed for the experience to simply unfold. I have said to friends about our visit to the school and the interaction with the people there, “” If a person could have but one experience like this in a lifetime, it would indeed be a very fortunate life.” With warmest regards, Claire
Thanks to the generous support of Global Giving donors, Friends of Burkina Faso has again been able to support 300 girls entering primary school this year through the Lambs For School Project. As of this year, we have supported approximately 1800 girls entering primary school in northern Burkina Faso. (See the 7/8/09 update for our Lambs For School Project strategy.)
The first group of girls supported by this project has finished middle school. Seventy-two percent of these girls passed the national exit exam, qualifying them to go on to secondary school (in contrast to 39% of middle school students in the region who passed this exam).
In anticipation of the girls’ success, NEEED (the local organization that runs the project) 1) expanded the middle school this year and made it a combined college/lycee (middle/secondary school), and 2) received funds to build three new secondary schools in the region which it has turned over to the government .... all of this for the purpose of accommodating the students finishing middle school and qualifying for secondary school.
NEEED is beginning to look for ways to support girls in post-secondary training (professional schools and the university).
Collectively, we have come a very long way! This is due to: 1) the commitment, imagination and hard work of NEEED, 2) the hard work of the individual students, 3) the enthusiastic engagement of their parents, and 4) the generous support of donors like you. What began ten years ago as a modest attempt to offer a primary education to a small number of rural village girls has evolved into ever-rising expectations about what these village girls can achieve when given an opportunity. There is the very real possibility that a high percentage of them will be able to complete professional training &/or university-level educations.
Our sincere thanks to you for your continued support for the education of these girls. Without our collective support, none of them could have even dreamed of school.
“Unless the girls are educated, society will not change”. Greg Mortenson (author of Three Cups of Tea)
Sheila Leonard is an intern at GlobalGiving. This summer she traveled throughout West Africa and visited a number of GlobalGiving projects. On May 29th she visited "Education for 900 Rural Girls in Burkina Faso." When asked what she would tell her friends about this project, Sheila said: "Great: They are making a difference."
This project is awesome. Seeing these very poor little girls hold on to their lambs for dear life and try desperately to keep them in line was inspiring. Each school I visited (2) sponsored around 25 girls by Friends of Burkina Faso/NEEED. For my visit, the parents came to school and brought their lambs. Picture 20 bleating lambs tied up around a million school kids running through them - it was quite a sight to see. In a culture where girls barely attend school, husbands have multiple wives, and women start bearing children in their teens, creating a project that designates these girls as worthwhile to themselves and their families brought tears to my eyes. After visiting some of the surrounding villages, it is clear one lamb is a great luxury for these families.
Asking questions directly to the parents and children proved difficult because of their fear of me, and the language of course! The father of one 6 year old girl told me (through two translators - More (the local language) to French to English) "NEEED helps the kids have clothing to wear and good working conditions at the school and a better future. But especially we thank for clothing to wear...We wish that all the girls are supported by NEEED, it is difficult because it is a limited number of children" It is true - NEEED works with school administrators to support the neediest children in the village, not every student. The parents and administrators also begged me for better school buildings. One of the schools only has a thatched roof and no door so wind, dust, and stray animals join the classroom at any moment.
The best part of this project is the responsibility bestowed on the families. Instead of just giving each family school tuition, the family must take care of the lamb and help it grow so they can receive a better price the following year - enough to buy 2 new lambs and start the process over. NEEED is very well-organized and had a good answer for everyone of my probbing development questions. I admire their throughness in making sure girls attend school, and parents are involved in the process. Burkina Faso is a beautiful country with kind friendly people and I am glad to see a project that gives help where it is needed.
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