Are Mentors Really that Important for Rural Nigerien Children?
The short answer is well, yes. Of course, it is far more complicated than that, so let's dive in, shall we? First things first, what is a mentor? A mentor is a person that guides you or supports you through a portion of your life or education. In Niger, the numbers of students that make it to middle school are shockingly low. Niger is rated last in the United Nations' Education Index which is determined by what the expected number of years of schooling should be and the actual number that citizens are attending. Girls on average only attend school for 3 years and boys 5 years.
So how do you flip the script and give these children a leg up in a struggling world? That is a big question...here is what our organization is doing. Rain for the Sahel and Sahara partners with local women to help primary school children understand the value of education and to encourage them to stay in school, all while, giving lessons in traditional crafts, and practical skills.
Children that have a mentor have shown to have a 5% higher retention rate at school than their non-mentored peers. Our partner mentors are dedicated to the cause. Assamhat, a mentor in the Tillaberi region, walked 10 miles in triple-digit temperatures when one of her students was absent from class. That is the kind of people our mentors are.
"RAIN's Mentoring Program permitted us to complete the entire academic program... When practically every school in the country was closed, we remained open.”
- Abdoul Aziz, Aouderas Middle School Math, and Physics-Chemistry teacher
Our mentors have become a force in the community, many regarded as "wise woman." They become advisers to village elders in regards to the school in the community. This respect allows them to talk with parents that would otherwise be against sending their children to school.
After all, it is hard to invest your child's time into education when the family may not have food that night. However, the support that mentors give is felt throughout the community and by the families of children mentees. Even those reluctant to send their children to school admit there is a positive change in the
The reason why the mentors are so impactful is that of the scope of their work and the dedication to the students, parents, and community. They care about their community and they want to prepare the next generation with the knowledge that can be used to better their lives.