Over the past several years, Benin has taken significant steps toward improving primary education. Since 1998, net enrollment rates for boys increased from 65 percent to 81 percent, while girls’ enrollment rose from 32 percent to 58 percent. USAID focuses on training teachers, increasing girls' enrollment and completion of primary school, and promoting greater community involvement in education. Since 2004, USAID has provided scholarships and mentoring to more than 6,000 girls and 1,200 boys who would otherwise be unable to continue their education.
In line with USAID’s education strategy, we emphasize high-quality primary education in Benin so that all children develop early reading skills. Our program trains new and established teachers to elevate the quality of education and improves the systems that monitor and evaluate progress toward education goals. In 2011 alone, we supported 10,000 teachers’ completion of the third and final year of a professional training program, which has improved their skills and enabled them to take the national licensing exam.
Despite gains, girls’ access to and retention in school continues to be a barrier to universal basic education in Benin. Our programs are helping to close the gender gap in education. We support a network of Parents and Mothers Associations, particularly focusing on the north, where rates of school enrollment and retention are the lowest. These associations receive training in basic project management and financial skills, which they use to develop their own self-financed activities to help girls stay in school. This innovative approach of leveraging community-based women’s organizations has shown significant returns in girls’ enrollment while representing a local and sustainable approach to solving education challenges.
Last updated: February 20, 2014