- Title: NIGER: Niger's education system suffers as drought ravages Sahel region.
- Date: 25th June 2012
- Summary: KIDS ON DONKEY IN VILLAGE EXTERIOR OF THATCHED HOUSE SCHOOL CHILDREN WRITING IN CLASS TILLABERY, NIGER (RECENT) (REUTERS-ACCESS ALL) (SOUNDBITE) (French) YAYE TOURE ABDOURAMANE, TILLABERY REGIONAL EDUCATION DIRECTOR SAYING: "Besides the problem of students who drop out of school, we also have problems with a lack of classrooms because most of our classrooms are made out grass thatched houses, we have no desks, which is a major problem." DOSSO, 140 KM FROM NIAMEY, NIGER (REUTERS-ACCESS ALL) MORE OF STUDENTS IN THATCHED HOUSE CLASSROOM STUDENT WRITING ON PAPER DURING CLASS
- Embargoed: 10th July 2012 13:00
- Location: Niger
- Country: Niger
- Topics: Education,Environment,Education
- Reuters ID: LVACCE7YLOSEHYGVKG0IYQMX1T4W
- Story Text: More than half a million children are at risk of dropping out of school in Niger this year due to an ongoing food crisis, the United Nations Children's Agency (UNICEF) announced last month.
Climate change has made settlements across the Sahel drier by the year, subjecting their populations to an ever longer yearly "lean season" when food stocks dwindle but the new harvest is still months off.
Many of the children are constantly on the move, migrating from village to village as their parents search for an income to buy food. Sometimes the children themselves have to find work.
Although migration is a way of life for many communities in Niger as a coping mechanism for normally arid weather, authorities are concerned that the children have been greatly affected this time round.
In one of the most affected regions, in the town of Tillabery, 120 kilometers northwest of the capital Niamey, the education crisis is further compounded by poor infrastructure and poverty.
Here, roofs of schools are made out of grass -- barely enough to give students shelter from the scorching sun and heat. They also have to sit on the floor.
According to Nigerien authorities, more than one million children learn in around 42,000 makeshift schools throughout the country. The government has said it is working towards providing desks and school buildings, but there are not enough funds directed towards that at the moment.
"Besides the problem of students who drop out, we also have problems with a lack of classrooms because most of our classrooms are made out grass thatched houses, we have no desks, which is a major problem," said Yaya Toure Abdouramane, Tillabery's regional education director.
"There are students who study while seated on the ground, which is very difficult. For children to be able to learn, they have to be studying in conditions that are conducive to learning," said Siragi Gagere, a teacher at the nearby village of Ouallam.
After a recent tour of the country, Ivorian reggae star, Tiken Jah Fakoly said the world needed to pay attention to the education crisis in the region.
Fakoly held a benefit concert to raise awareness about the education problem and to rebuild a school in Gassa Awa in Tillabery, where three students were killed last month after a school building collapsed, due to poor infrastructure.
"We are going to do everything for this concert in Niamey so that these children can have a school building, that can sustain anything and where they have shelter," said Fakoly.
Niger is one of the countries hardest hit by food shortages in West Africa's Sahel region, where the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimates that at least 15 million people are facing food insecurity issues this year.
The crisis in the Sahel has been compounded by soaring staple food prices, the high level of debt of households following past crises and the collapse of long-standing coping mechanisms such as remittances from family members who have now returned home due to instability in neighbouring countries such as Libya and Nigeria.
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