With a population that is 70% illiterate and only 42.6% of girl students reaching 6th grade, Niger has recently adopted an ambitious national education program to increase educational access, quality and retention. USAID is contributing to these objectives together with support of the Millennium Challenge Corporation with programming fostering reading culture and early grade reading in local languages; an improved school environment, especially for girls; increased parental engagement, and strengthening community linkages with education administration. Additional support for impact evaluation of these activities aims to aid the Ministry of Education in making data-based policy and program decisions moving forward.
Through the Niger Education and Community Strengthening (NECS) project USAID is enhancing the educational opportunities available to Nigeriens by pursuing dual objectives: to increase access to quality education in schools through an improved physical and social environment for students and increased community participation in education; and to increase student grade reading achievement by promoting a culture of reading, and improving reading instruction methods in primary schools.
By improving and increasing community participation in education, in part through support to parents’ education level and literacy, USAID hopes to address some of the root causes for high absenteeism levels that plague the education system in Niger, as well as address the gender disparity therein.
A variety of reasons, including religious and societal customs and opportunity costs, contribute to current overall primary school enrollment rates that show an 18% gender gap between boys and girls enrollment. This gap in turn contributes to other problems hampering Niger’s development, such as poverty and some of the fastest population growth rates in the world. Increasing enrollment, retention, and learning – particularly in the fundamental skill of reading, a critical building block for all future learning – serves to uphold the right to education while helping Niger promote community and national development.
Last updated: February 25, 2014