- The government of Niger has secured the financing of a basic education strengthening project that is to mend of the country's poor statistics. Niger has the world's highest illiteracy rate, especially among women.
The African Development Fund (ADF) today announced it had approved a loan and a grant totalling US$ 17.28 million to finance the Basic Education Strengthening Project in Niger. Education has become the main development goal for the Nigerien government. Girls' and women's education has been given special weight.
The new education project is aimed at providing considerable support to the implementation of the government's new and comprehensive education policy through the strategic orientations of the Ten-Year Education Development Program for the period 2003-2013 (PDDE).
It aims at strengthening the school enrolment capacity at the basic education level in Niger, currently around 40 percent. At the same time, it is also aimed at improving quality, equity and efficiency, according to the project's description.
With the construction of 89 new classrooms, 8 comprehensive secondary schools and 60 permanent education centres, the project is to permit the extension of the reception capacity by nearly 3,560 additional places and 1,280 slots, in addition to providing literacy classes for about 5,400 women.
On completion, the project is to help to raise the gross enrolment rates at first and second level from 41.7 percent and 13 percent, respectively, in 2002 to 100 percent and 36 percent in 2013 in line with the objectives of the government's education programme. Also the repeat percentage is to be reduced significantly.
Nigerien girls have experienced particular difficulties in obtaining an education. The government now hopes to increase gross girls' enrolment rate from 28.9 percent in 2002 to 88 percent in 2013. The same enrolment rate in the rural area is set to increase from 38 percent to 90 percent.
Lastly, the proportion of girls compared to total enrolment will increase from 39.8 percent to 48 percent during the same period in line with the education programme's objectives.
Furthermore, the project is to finance the implementation of an operating strategy in the school environment as well as sensitisation campaigns on sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS.
The government has defined several priority zones for the project - Tillaberi, Maradi, Tahoua and Zinder. These zones are now characterised by very low enrolment rates, worrying HIV/AIDS prevalent rates and a high poverty index.
- In fact, despite the heavy financial and human investments in education and the net progress recorded, the sector performance has remained weak in Niger, ADB notes. The gross enrolment rate, estimated at about 41.7 percent in 2002, is one of the lowest in the continent.
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