School in Niger
In Niger, children start school at the age of seven. School fees do not have to be paid. The compulsory education ends at age 15, at the end of secondary school. Because for many decades only about a quarter of all children in a given year started school, there are very many people in Niger who cannot read or write. Only 19 percent of adults can! So 81 out of 100 adults are illiterate.
In the meantime, 67 out of 100 children are sent to school. But that also means that 33 out of 100 children do not go to school. The proportion of girls who do not go to school is much higher than that of boys.
Those who are lucky enough to go to school attend elementary school for six years. It ends with an exam that entitles you to go to school. However, only 39 out of 100 boys and 31 out of 100 girls attend secondary school.
Lessons in Hausa, Fulfulde…
In most of the state schools, classes are taught in one of the national languages from 1st to 3rd – Fulfulde, Hausa, Kanuri, Songhai-Zarma or Tamascheq. Which language that is depends on where you live. From the 2nd grade onwards, classes are also given in French. From the 4th grade onwards, French becomes the main language of instruction.
But there are also many children who attend a Koran school. These are Islamic. Here, Arabic plays a special role in the classroom.
Schools made of clay
The schools in Niger look different than ours. In the country there is not always one solid building, just one made of clay or just a roof made of straw. Sometimes not every child has a seat. There are often 60 students in a class, sometimes 100! There are far too few teachers.
Problems of the children in Niger
Many children in Niger are not doing well.
45 percent of the population, i.e. half of all residents in Niger, live below the poverty line and have less than 1.90 dollars a day to live on. It affects even more people in the countryside. They often don’t have enough to eat. The situation is particularly bad when there is also a drought. You never know how much rain will fall in a year and how the harvest will be. There have been times when there was no rain for several years. Then the country is hit by famine, from which the children suffer particularly.
In Niger, a country located in Africa according to holidaysort, 2.5 per 100 newborns die, almost five per 100 year olds (4.8) and eight per 100 five year olds (8.4)! There are many reasons for this: not all of them have clean drinking water and then get sick. Many die from diarrhea. There are also diseases such as malaria that children die from. There are few doctors in the country. They are often still far away, as are the hospitals. And there are no drugs either.
A disease that is particularly widespread in Niger is noma. It particularly affects children who are malnourished and who have no immune system. 14 out of 100 people in Niger suffer from noma. Bacteria destroy the face and facial bones in noma. Those who survive the disease look mutilated and are often expelled from the community.
Child labor and marriage
34 percent of the children in Niger work. They do not attend school, but help their parents in the fields or in the household. Some girls are sold by their parents and have to work as domestic servants for richer people for free. There are boys who are forced to beg for gangs, others are sent into the tunnels of the gold mines. Tuareg children who roam the desert do not attend school either, but help their parents with their work.
Another problem is that girls in particular are married before they are 15 years old. In Niger this affects 28 out of 100 girls. For those who are married at the age of 18, the proportion is even 76 percent.
The circumcision of girls is forbidden and carries harsh prison terms. The numbers have therefore fallen sharply, but it is still being carried out. According to estimates, 2.2 percent of young girls – mainly Songhai-Djerma, but also Fulbe – are still victims of circumcision.