In eastern Burkina Faso, West Africa, insecurity and the constant threat of terrorism is causing many teachers and students to flee their schools and even their villages. In response, Aide et Action is offering educational continuity to displaced students and teachers.
Ounténi Noula, (pictured above) principal of Koulfo primary school in eastern Burkina Faso, was forced to flee his school during the 2020-2021 school year. And for good reason, the terrorist threat, very strong in his area, did not allow the continuation of classical education. Displaced to the town’s capital of Manni, Aide et Action, alongside municipal authorities is now supporting Ounténi and many of his students who were in the exam class.
Particularly difficult teaching conditions
Through our existing Enlightened School project, we have created the Resource Center for Quality Education (EECREQ) in partnership with the French Development Agency (AFD to support students in preparing for end-of-year exams. Despite the difficult context, this year, an average of 60% of students obtained their Certificate of Primary Studies (CEP). This crucial step will open the doors to secondary school for them.
Powerless in the face of terrorists who dictate their law in several areas of Burkina Faso, teachers are tense. Teaching conditions with bloated numbers are not the easiest. But, despite the risks, they are keen on educating children to reduce early school leaving and above all to avoid the risk of young people becoming potential recruits for terrorist groups.
Fight to keep children in the education system
“Following the attack on the village by terrorists, we closed the school last year,” explains Ounténi. Now, Ounténi has been redeployed to Manni East school as principal where he has received support from us in the form of health and nutritional supplies, enabling the students to continue to learn.
“We have tried to get as many of our students back as possible so that they do not drop out of the education system. Following the movement of the students to Manni, parents of the students received threats ordering them to return the Koulfo. I have personally received calls from parents of students asking us to let their children come back to the village. I opposed this. We cannot sacrifice the future of our children. We held on and they dropped that requirement. The children are with us at Manni and we continue the lessons. What is at stake today is the future of children. I encourage my colleagues to stay the course. If we abdicate, children risk ending up in the hands of terrorists. Today we have classes of over 110 students. It is an exceptional situation that we are trying to manage as best we can to keep everyone in school. “