Jun 11, 2020

THERE IS HOPE IN SPITE OF MANY CHALLENGES!

Time for Masks !
Time for Masks !

Dear Friends and Donors,

We are happy to announce to you that every single one of our students at Hampaté Bâ Secondary School is happy and healthy and back in school as of June 1st, this time with masks on !  So this is fantastic and reassuring news!

The challenges have been great, and still continue to be consequential, but the students are very resilient and determined to succeed in spite of the numerous challenges.

CHALLENGE # 1 : NO REVISIONS OR REMOTE LEARNING DURING LOCKDOWN

Schools at all levels in Niger closed on March 20th and remained closed up until June 1st. During this period of almost 2 ½ months, the students benefitted from NO remote learning nor tutoring, so that virtually meant a

2 ½ month period where no classes were given and no academic re-enforcement took place. To correct this situation, the government intended to put in place a remote learning program by WhatsApp, but were not able to achieve that objective finally with their professors. Moreover, even if they had succeeded in implementing that program, a majority of the students in Niger do not have mobile phones or enough money to purchase minutes in order to follow classes on-line. Not to mention the disadvantage for some of our scholarship students, who are terribly underprivileged and do not even have electricity. So mission impossible.

CHALLENGE #2 : ONLY 1 ½ MONTHS TO CATCH UP ON 2 ½ MONTHS ABSENCE

As the Minister of Education in Niger concluded , in agreement with the Council of Ministers,  that they didnt want to lose an academic year, they took the decision to continue secondary school classes between June 1st and July 15th. And yet only 50% of the program had been completed before shut-down on March 20th. This means the students have to catch up and complete the total program, therefore having the last 50% of the program to finish in only 45 days with extended time in the afternoon.  A big challenge for sure !  

CHALLENGE # 3 : SOCIAL DISTANCING AND HYGIENE DURING LOCKDOWN 

Of course in Niger, just like in most countries in the world, the golden rules during the coronavirus crisis included social distancing, hand washing, and wearing masks. The problem being that social distancing in Niger is very difficult to carry out. Large families living in small spaces cannot social distance. Not to mention the impossibility of carrying out certain sanitary rules and basic hygiene, when they eat in the same plates and drink out of the same cups. Nigers traditions for marriages and baptisms and grouping together make matters even worse. In spite of these difficulties and rules not always respected, Nigers figures were not catastrophic, and perhaps all the cases were not reported.  The official figures as of June 10th are :  974 positive cases and 65 deaths.

CHALLENGE # 4 : THE HOTTEST, WETTEST & SANDIEST MONTHS OF THE YEAR

In any tourist brochure for Niger, you will see that it is highly advised NOT to go to Niger from March through May because of the high temperatures. This is the hot season which is sweltering  and temperatures can easily exceed 40 degrees centigrade. Sandstorms do occur and this year they have been especially numerous and colorful, as is seen in our photos. From June through September, it is the rainy season, making the air heavy and humid. which isnt any easier. It is hot, oppressive and mostly cloudy. So to go to school, when the weather is so hot that you cant think (especially without air conditioning) or when the rain is so abundant that water floods the roads, is not exactly easy and definitely affects ones energy and motivation, making studying a grueling task. Instead of ending school beginning June with exams in June/July, students must now brave Nigers worst seasons, with school ending mid-July and exams in mid August.. 

RESILIENCE AND DETERMINATION WITH A SMILE

In spite of having only a few months ahead of them to revise and to successfully complete the unfinished program during the worst seasons of the year, the Hampaté Bâ students have decided to make the most of the situation and work with devotion and determination. They have reasoned that they have no choice, and since they want to succeed their BEPC and BAC exams, they have been making the most of their time. The Exam classes are 9th grade students in Middle school and 12th grade students in High School. Each morning they attend their regular classes in all subjects. In the afternoon they have supplementary classes to catch them up on the last 50% of the program that they havent learned yet in the most essential subjects. In addition, our Association is working with those low-income students who are struggling the most, and giving them very necessary coaching in smaller groups. This makes for a day from 8 am right through to 6 pm and after that they have a nice walk home , ranging between ½ hr and 1 hour. And this is done with no complaints. Only with a smile and with gratitude. Because in Niger, education is such a gift, that it is prized by students whose families could not afford to put their children in school. These students actually WANT to have an education and they treasure the opportunity we are giving them to follow studies that could lead them to professional training or to higher studies. 

A SURGE OF ENERGY AND CLEVER IDEAS

The students have actually approached all the challenges of COVID19 with a positive attitude and clever ideas. Some have turned to the computer resources at the Hampaté Bâ School to improve their reading and writing capacities. Others have used the computers to improve their mathematical skills and more sophisticated programming tools. Still others have invented machines to distribute soap so as to put hygiene habits into practice daily. So the crisis has instigated new ideas and a flow of energy to move forward and be innovative with original new ways of doing things. Bravo to these brave students !

THERE IS HOPE, WITH YOUR HELP 

We wish all these students luck in facing a very difficult challenge  during these terrible times and are behind them to support their great efforts and to encourage them. We are very thankful for any and all donations you can contribute to help students succeed, reach their potential, and break the poverty cycle.  They need you to help them out, by supporting a student scholarship, teacher training, or specialized tutoring, to give the most disadvantaged, struggling students a better chance. 

Our students have not given up. They are still hopeful. With your donations, we can make their hope become a reality and their dreams come true. Thank you. 

 

Back to Computers for Math Exercises
Back to Computers for Math Exercises
Concentrating on Writing layout
Concentrating on Writing layout
Frequent sand storms
Frequent sand storms
Social distancing
Social distancing
Hand made water dispenser
Hand made water dispenser
Soap and water for hygiene
Soap and water for hygiene
Disinfection before classes start
Disinfection before classes start
Jun 8, 2020

COVID 19: An Impact on our Girl Students

New sanitary measures in computer class
New sanitary measures in computer class

Hampaté Bâ Secondary School in Niamey, Niger closed its doors on March 20th, just like every school in Niger at all levels. One day before, on March 19th, the first case of Covid 19 was detected in Niger. The girl students at Hampaté Bâ Middle School had just finished their 1st semester Art projects and the girls at Hampaté Bâ High School were starting their first exams of the 2nd semester, which suddenly came to a halt. 

Here is a time-line of the Covid19’s impact in Niger and how it affected our girl students.

CONSEQUENCES OF COVID DURING LOCK-DOWN

March 19th : first case of Covid 19 declared

March 20th : schools close / government testing begins rapidly / lockdown begins 

March 20th-June 1st 

Niger: Curfew enforced from 7 pm- 5 am/ borders closed/ transit limited/  airport closed / city of Niamey closed to other cities in Niger / people encouraged to stay at home / social distancing put in place, but difficult in Niger

Our students : no school classes/  / no tutoring /students encouraged to practice safe hygiene / on-line classes available for university students only

Our action :We Checked up regularly on our girls for thier health/ food aid /families / compensated for lack of food/ helped pay mobile phone tarifs for remote learning

Difficulties : Hottest period of the year/ social distancing difficult with customs to eat together in families out of same plates and same cups

June 1st- Back to school (with masks, gel, soap, hygiene training) No more lockdown and back to normal activities except for airports which are still closed.

June 1st - July 15th : Objective to finish last 50% of school program in 1 1/2 months 

For Exam classes : After-school supplementary classes imposed by government:  45 days to finish program

Our Action : Extra tutoring to help students understand basics and encourage them  to succeed

August 8th : BEPC exam

August 17th : BAC exam

September 1st :  medical internships to validate school year

IMPACT AND COPING

As of June 4th, Niger has had 963 cases of coronavirus since its first case 2 ½ months ago and 65 deaths, which is much less than what was expected. The government took swift action to close borders, limit transit, close schools, and encourage people to remain at home and practice safe hygiene plus curfews at 19h. None of this was easy. Unfortunately with borders closed and transportation limited, supplies fell short and prices rose. We chose to help our girls with food aid during this period where their families could not pay the rising prices.

Indeed, our girl students have been very resilient and have shown determination to persevere in spite of their low-income backgrounds and difficult conditions. The impact on their education has been virtually catastrophic. For underprivileged students in Niger, one of the 5 poorest countries in the world, remote learning was a challenge, since most of them live without electricity and of course, without computers. We were able to offer some of our Hampaté Bâ graduates in high education institutes, power banks to charge with their mobile phones to have enough power to download some programs and continue their studies. The good news is that all of our girls are in good health and their parents also. Two of our students got malaria quite seriously, but we helped them with health costs and this was cured over a week’s time. 

CHALLENGE MET 

Our challenge over the years has been to get more girls into and through secondary education. We have given scholarships to help girls stay in school. We have offered them skills in critical thinking and decision making through Empowerment Projects. We have made them aware of ethics and human values, and all of these values are becoming apparent in our girls. We can see it in the way they are able to face difficulties and bounce back.

We are happy and proud to have armed them with knowledge about benefits such as later marriage, better sanitary conditions, improved child care. We have strengthened their confidence to improve their families’ well-being and fight gender bias.  Also, providing Empowerment Projects such as a Media Room and Gender Club, we have been able to promote gender equality through the arts and ICT,

Covid 19 gave our girl students the opportunity to use the knowledge they have acquired through our projects concerning hygiene and sanitary actions. They were also able to use their ICT knowledge to follow courses using technical means during the lockdown. These are skills that they will be able to continue using. Additionally they were able to use their artistic qualities to fabricate cloth masks and to sell them and therefore help protect their friends and families from spreading the contagion.

YOUR DONATIONS COUNT 

Your donations help us keep these girls in school. Being able to attend our specialized gender equality programs have made them become proud women, capable of facing the challenges of our times. We are grateful for your funding of scholarships enabling them to continue their schooling and reach their potential. You are making a difference in their lives and giving them a chance for a better future!  Your generosity counts !   Thank you for offering them the gift of an education !

Last Art painting before Lockdown
Last Art painting before Lockdown
Last Art painting before Lockdown
Last Art painting before Lockdown
Back to school, Bac candidates with masks
Back to school, Bac candidates with masks
New sanitary measures in class
New sanitary measures in class
Hygiene - Soap and Water.
Hygiene - Soap and Water.
Feb 13, 2020

A New Tutoring Program with a Big Impact on Learning Outcomes

The joy of math tutoring
The joy of math tutoring

We are facing a great challenge. Niger is the least-developed country in the world: ranked 189th out of 189 countries according to the 2019 U.N. Human Development Index.

Solutions for Equal Opportunities and Hope This is why our non-profit « les Amis de Hampaté Bâ » has been endeavoring over the past 10 years to address one of the main development issues : EducationOne solution we found to improve the quality of education and to help reduce the dropout rate of underprivileged pupils with literary and numeracy deficiencies at Hampaté Bâ Secondary School, was to implement an extensive tutoring program.  

In the process, we have worked on gender equality issues, and have empowered girls to transition into the education system to complete their schooling and delay marriage by funding a certain number of scholarships.  Our hope was that quality education would turn struggling students, especially girls, into confident, above average achievers.

Going a few steps further and picking up speed

We have always had tutoring programs in place over the last 10 years, but results were not always measurable and evident and students were not convinced. Little by little our remediation programs have gathered momentum and picked up speed and have finally given very satisfactory results, motivating both students and teachers. Now thanks to a generous one-year grant from the FAWCO Foundation, we have been given the opportunity to go even further in our tutoring efforts to improve this exceptional program.

So what’s new?

The new tutoring program is very exciting for both teachers and students. Here are some of the main improvements:

  • The afterschool courses for last year (Terminale) students in High School have started earlier in the year, gaining about 4 months, and  visibly already positively affecting learning outcomes .
  • The number of hours of tutoring for diploma classes (BEPC and BAC) has been significantly increased. The BEPC candidates have classes after school 3 days a week and the BAC candidates have after school classes 6 days a week (2 hours per session)
  • For the first time, tutoring is being given to students in 6th grade, so that the basics can be established and solid from the beginning, starting from the roots. Even though the first year students in Middle School were chosen as the best of those who applied, they were still very weak in both reading, writing and math skills when they entered Hampate Ba School in October. Some of them were barely able to write their name.
  • Meetings have been set up with the parents of students in 6th grade, 9th grade and last year of high school to make them aware that their children will need time to study and should not be overloaded with household chores.  Most of these parents are illiterate and cannot help the students with homework. They have all agreed to help out by doing more household chores themselves and therefore relieving their children of these time-consuming tasks to give them a better chance to succeed.
  • An evaluation of each student was made from outside sources to assess objectively the level of students in the diploma classes, and to detect any difficulties at an early stage.
  • A roll call has been enforced by all tutors, so as to closely follow attendance of the students. Experience has proved that good attendance makes for better progress and results. 

A spontaneous interview with some Middle School scholarship students about their math tutoring classes : They are enthusiastic « fans » !

All the girls agree that the tutoring classes allow them to understand and discover hidden details. They all talked about how important it is for them to follow these classes in small groups. They are all joyful to have this opportunity and are motivated to regularly attend these afterschool classes which give them self-confidence and pride in getting better grades !

Charifou: «  These tutoring classes allow me to progress in Maths and in Physics. I can ask questions about things that I didn’t exactly understand in my daily classes at school. I am really proud because my tutoring class last Thursday helped me gain 2 points more on my recent physics exam. »

Samira: « I like the tutoring sessions because I have a deeper understanding of the exercises and that way I am ready at all times for the weekly exams and final tests. »

Saadia: « For me, it’s a chance to ask questions about applications and do examples of exercises that I didn’t really understand in my school class. If there are things that remain cloudy for me in class, I know I can ask my tutor after school to re-explain so that I can understand better.  I love my tutoring classes !« 

And what does the Math tutor have to say?

For Mr Gogo, who gives tutoring sessions in Math and Physics to middle school scholarship girls, the remediation classes have proven successful, given the good results obtained, which are improving year after year. 

«  If we take the 9th grade class preparing the BEPC as an example, each year the students following remediation classes have a much higher percentage of success passing this exam, than the students who don’t come to tutoring. If we talk about the classes in between the diploma classes, all the students following my tutoring classes pass into the next grade and are among the most brilliant students in their class », remarks Mr. Gogo with pride. 

He continues: « In view of the small number of students per tutoring class, these students are really happy to work together, spurred on by the competitive spirit between them. 

I have not been disappointed about following my students year by year, as I have been able to observe that these students deserve these remediation classes and work hard to increase their level. »

Mr. Gogo draws the conclusion that “ in every enterprise, follow-up is important to get better results “.

We are very grateful to be able to offer this improved tutoring program to deserving underprivileged students in Niger this year, giving them equal opportunities to succeed in their exams, get their diplomas, and find employment.  We are convinced that these classes are key in preparing them for careers of their choice and a brighter future.

We need your donations to continue this remarkable program in the future and help us continue to make a difference in our students’ lives. 

We so appreciate your support. Thank you!!

 

Concentrating on math exercise
Concentrating on math exercise
6th graders in tutoring class
6th graders in tutoring class
I'll find the solution
I'll find the solution
Getting the basics
Getting the basics
 
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