Effort in Niger to Return Kids to School

Society of African Missions

Effort Niger Return School
© Fides

An effort is underway in Niger to return young people to school.

“We are in contact with the rural areas of the diocese of Niamey, in particular with the two areas most affected by terrorism: Makalondi, on the border with Burkina Faso and Dolbel, a region on the border with Mali. Thousands of children and teenagers who live here have dropped out of school. This project aims to help them continue their studies, ensuring a minimum of school fees and a contribution to health and the cost of room and accommodation”. This is what Father Mauro Armanino, missionary of the Society of African Missions (SMA) told Fides, speaking of the new school project that the religious of the institute founded by Mgr. de Brésillac are carrying out in collaboration with the diocese of Niamey.

“In recent years,” says Fr. Mauro, “hundreds of schools have been closed due to threats to teachers and to the educational institution in general, considered a ‘Western’ vehicle. This has caused not only distancing of the population from the areas considered at risk, but also an impoverishment of peasant families, who have been forced to abandon their agricultural and pastoral activity: it is estimated that at least 3 million people, in Niger, are at risk of famine. In this situation, the first to pay the price of this situation are children and young school-age children: “Many of them – Fr. Armanino – had to flee elsewhere, and their parents do not have the means to guarantee them the completion of their educational process. Our commitment – he says – is little more than a drop in an ocean, but it wants to be a sign of solidarity to give hope to those who simply want to live and learn”. According to the missionary, the difficult condition in which the school system in Niger finds itself is also the result of wrong political choices that have been made in the past: “In the 1980s – notes the religious – the dismantling of almost everything that was public: investments in safety have been at the expense of social services and this has also involved the education sector. Following the important demographic growth, the decrease in investments for training and incentives for teachers completed the disaster. To date – reports Fr. Mauro – a positive signal comes from new president Mohamed Bazoom, who said that the school will be at the center of his priorities, also in reference to the birth rate. In fact, the construction of at least three boarding schools for girls in Niamey is planned. The more the girls are followed at school – he concludes – the more they will be able to ‘choose’ the moment of their first pregnancy”.