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
Feb 7, 2020

PROVIDING GIRLS WITH SKILLS FOR A BETTER FUTURE

FEMALE CONSTRUCTION TRAINEES (photo: Grant Smith)
FEMALE CONSTRUCTION TRAINEES (photo: Grant Smith)

Niger is a tough place for children to grow up, but it’s particularly challenging for girls, thousands of whom have seen their childhoods cut short by marriage – Niger has the highest rate of child marriage in the world : 76% before 18 years old.

One way to avoid early marriages is to help girls go to school and stay in school. Our organisation is constantly creating exciting opportunities for our young girl students at Hampaté Bâ School in Niamey, Niger. In addition to funding scholarships for academic studies , we also provide them with programs to learn and develop skills, therefore allowing them to prepare and succeed in future careers and meaningfully contribute to challenges across Africa.

We are very proud to share with you our latest girl empowerment projects , presenting innovative solutions and inspiring success stories ! 

TRAINING GIRLS IN DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY

This project rocks!  It’s a two-fold ongoing project that has developed in stages over 10 years, aimed at improving the quality of education while also bridging the technology gap.

  1. Promoting Numeracy and Literacy Skills through Digital Education

We implemented this after school project mainly for 6th graders entering middle school, enabling the students to further improve their basic numeracy and literacy competencies through interactive and fun material. It is very popular and has a high attendance rate, demonstrating student interest and engagement !

 "I never miss my after school computer classes on Tuesday afternoons. I quickly learned how to conjugate verbs. I now know how to conjugate the verb “to achieve” in the past, present and future times. Why the verb "to achieve"? Because I will be the one who will "achieve" and go to university," proudly says Haoua ,12 years old  

« Nassia’s progress is amazing. When she came in, her French was quite limited and within a few months she has managed to not only learn to communicate fluently but also excel in her class” the French teacher remarks. 

Mr. Kabirou, the computer teacher, has remarked : "With computers, the girls are much more engaged and motivated. Their performance has clearly improved. It is a playful approach and has brought a lot of change. It has even improved their communication and teamwork skills."

  1. Computer Classes in Daily Curriculum : Teaching Students to become familiar with Essential Digital Tools and Basic Software Programs 
  • Middle School : The younger students start by learning basic computer skills and how to use simple programs, like word processing.
  • High School :  More Advanced classes learning to use a Spread Sheet like Excel, Tools for Presentations like Power Point,  and guide students towards finding information through internet. 
  • Future projects currently in pilot stages : Classes to learn coding

With these skills, the girls can participate in day-to-day life and be integrated in the development and modernisation of Niger. The computer classes during and after school have definitely increased students’ passion for learning digital know-how. 

During our last trip to Niger,  as soon as we entered the computer classroom, we immediately felt the energy of the students. We are so exhilarated to see that our initiatives to explore new solutions through innovative projects have the potential of improving learning outcomes and positively impact even the most marginalized students. 

Our aim is to help girls for future jobs by teaching them digital technology in hopes of overcoming the many barriers for women’s access and use of technology in Niger. Despite the challenges, we continue our efforts because of the incredible opportunity that technology provides for girls. So far, the girls’ accomplishments are impressive and in view of their underprivileged background and the context of Niger, even astounding.

OFFERING  GIRLS  WORK EXPERIENCE IN TECHNICAL FIELDS 

During vacation time an amazing project popped up, offering a great opportunity to girl students at Hampaté Bâ High School .The project gave quite unexpected, yet positive results

Renovation and construction work was being done near the school and the contractors agreed to use the project to provide on-site training and employment opportunities for girl students at Hampaté Bâ High School. They would include at least 15% of girl students in the team. The internship was organized to last one month and the girls would be trained to actually help with specific tasks during the different stages of the construction.

To our surprise, 20 girls eagerly volunteered to follow this internship and were happy to actively participate. They were very inspired by what they learned and proud to receive diplomas at the end of the training. The contractors were amazed by the girls’ strong motivations: some of them wanted to become architects, some wanted to be painters, and some engineers. The training sparked an interest in each one. «  It was so important for me to have more notions about construction work. It gave me all kinds of ideas for my future « remarked Atika. «  It’s a great opportunity for me . Now I can imagine myself as a future architect. And when I see a house outside, I know how it was built ! » Exclaimed Aicha.

We wanted to awaken some of the girls to technical skills, to give them a taste for possible technical and scientific studies, to motivate them through a work experience in technical fields to consider careers such as engineering and architecture or project management. Opportunities like this give girls a chance to develop competencies and envisage ways to change their reality. We hope this will empower girls to lead independent lives

And why not? After all, half of the population in Africa in feminine. Including women in the work force is essential.

Despite the prevailing stereotypes and the social pressure, we are trying to give our girl students opportunities to breakdown barriers every day that prevent girls from accessing and benefiting from technology.  Whatever their level, the goal is for them to acquire knowledge and experience to be able have an activity leading to a decent salary and a career.

Helping today’s talented young girls will benefit tomorrow’s society. Thank you all for your vital support of these amazing and courageous young  underprivileged girls who will hopefully leave a remarkable and uplifting  imprint on their community, on Africa and on the world.

Cantine at Construction Training (photo: G. Smith)
Cantine at Construction Training (photo: G. Smith)
Proud girls with Internship Diplomas (Grant Smith)
Proud girls with Internship Diplomas (Grant Smith)
Computer classa after school
Computer classa after school
Practicing skills
Practicing skills
Happy to learn
Happy to learn
Searching the Internet
Searching the Internet
 
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