First graders in class in the village of Ingare
In mid-December, I visited the Lambs Support Village Girls' Education in Burkina Faso, including NEEED who runs the project, village primary schools, teachers, parents and grandparents, girls whose educations we support in their first year of school, and regional education officials. Parents and grandparents expressed much appreciation and gratitude for NEEED's support (that is also your support!) for their daughters'/grandaughters' educations. This sentiment was echoed by teachers and government officials as well.
The project is having a huge and positive impact. As reported earlier, the girls are doing amazingly well in school. When I asked teachers and parents why they thought these girls were doing so much better than their peers on average, they said "Because they have the necessary tools to study. They have paper, pencils and pens and books; and they have a lamp which enables them to study at night." Imagine trying to learn without such basic necessities!
Another equally important goal of this Burkinabe-run project is to change the way villagers view the education of girls. When the project began 12 years ago, many parents gave little priority to sending their daughters to school. In some villages, it was a challenge to get parents to even consider the possibility. By contrast, during my recent visit it was pointed out to me repeatedly how seriously village parents in villages in which the project has intervened take girls', and all children's, education.
- In the schools I visited, both at the primary and middle/secondary levels, there were approximately the same number of girls and boys in the crowded classrooms.
- In the region, villagers have built approximately 600 primary schools out of mud bricks and straw in recent years. While these structures are inadequate and are vulnerable to wind, rain and snakes, they enable the village to receive government teachers and therefore to send their children to school.
- In the villages I visited, education has become a top priority. To this end, parents whose daughters have been able to enroll in school through the Lambs Support Village Girls' Education project are finding ways to create a "multiplier effect" for younger siblings, thus creating sustainability for the education of their younger children. (The Lambs Support Village Girls' Education project only intervenes in any one village one time.) Some parents have been able to produce a lamb from their daughter's sheep before selling it while others are able to economize and purchase two lambs, plus pay their daughter's school materials for the following year, following the sale of a fattened sheep. In this way, parents are looking to have the resources to send more of their children to school.
- In the villages in which this project intervened several years ago, parents of younger girls are seeing the example of what young girls can achieve and more of them are enrolling their daughters in school.
I share with parents in the project region the optimism that their daughters may one day look forward to a brighter future as a result of their chance to go to school. And I share with you their appreciation and gratitude for your helping to make their daughters' educations possible. Each year, the Lambs Support Girls' Education project enables the enrollment of as many girls in village primary schools as funds allow. This year, the project enrolled girls in 26 primary schools and had to turn down requests for support from an additional 60 villages in the region. With your generous donations, we hope to respond to at least half of these villages in the coming year.
Our sincere thanks for your past, and continuing, support.
Koeneba primary school built by parents
Koeneba parents discuss childrens' education