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Nuestras aportaciones en Benin

Benin

Country information

Benin is a West African state bordered to the east by Nigeria, to the west by Togo, to the north by Burkina Faso and Niger and to the south by the Gulf of Guinea. Its capital is Porto-Novo, although the seat of government is in Cotonou, the country’s largest and most populated city.

Benin’s climate is tropical, characterized by hot and humid conditions along the coastal region and less rainfall and more variable temperatures in the north. The economy is highly dependent on agriculture, even though nearly half of the territory is non-farmable.

Country Profile

Indicators

  • Capital: Porto-Novo
  • Population: 10,050,700
  • Human Development Index (HDI): Rank 166 of 187
  • Population living below poverty level (on less than $1.25 a day): 47%
  • Life expectancy at birth: 59.2 years old
  • Under-five mortality rate: 90 deaths for every 1,000 live births
  • Persistence to last grade of primary school: 55.8%
  • Adult literacy rate: 28.7%
  • Literate women per 100 literate men: 45.4
Sources: UNDP Report 2014 / Unicef

Educo in the country

  • Year activities were initiated: 2011
  • Type of intervention: Local partners
  • Annual budget: €1,048,050 (2016)
  • Office in Benin: 10 B.P. 70 Cotonou.

Problem issues

Benin is a country of origin, transit and destination of child trafficking. It is estimated that more than forty thousand victims of child trafficking live in this country—two percent of the 6 to 17-year-old population—the majority of whom are girls from uneducated families.

But trafficking is really a reflection of the country’s underlying structural problems—such as low levels of household income, a lack of socioeconomic development, poverty and school abandonment—which are further compounded by traditional and cultural factors.

Local partners:

  • Foyer Don Bosco
  • ReSPESD
  • Assovie
  • FEE-Dév
  • IFMA

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Educo’s actions

We work in the Borgou Department, in the north, and the Atlantique and Littoral Departments on the Atlantic coast, carrying out projects that benefit 217 students in 62 schools, 119 young people and 630 adults.

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Improving school performance of girls in the rural areas of n’Dali

Beneficiaries
800 girls from 7 to 10 years old: 1,686 adults (parents and teachers)
Duration
Active project

Intervention area

N’Dali commune, in the Borgou Department

Local partners

FEE-Développement

Description

Children in rural areas have fewer opportunities to attend school and access quality education, due to factors such as poverty, a shortage of schools and families’ lack of awareness. In the most disadvantaged areas, only two out of every three children go to school, and this percentage is lower among girls, who are often subject to early marriage, violence and child labor. Many families do not send their daughters to school or marry them off at an early age because they feel that this is the best way to protect them from abuse or aggressions. School dropout and grade repetition rates are also higher for girls than for boys.

Given this situation, the project aims to promote education for girls in rural N’Dali so that they can attend school and complete their primary schooling. To do this, we talk with their families so that they become aware of the importance of schooling their daughters and supporting them in their studies so that they can improve their prospects for the future. Parents are also made aware of the need to combat child marriage, child abuse, child trafficking and undesired pregnancies.

The project also provides educational materials so that girls can study at home and thus combine their studies with their domestic chores. Along with teachers and school principals, the project monitors their academic performance so that they can receive the personalized support that they need.
The intervention benefits 800 primary school girls in 43 schools in N’Dali, as well as their families.

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Education and protection for the most disadvantaged children in Littoral, Ouémé and Plateau

Beneficiaries
440 girls from 8 to 17 years old: 2,650 adults (parents and teachers)
Duration
Active project

Intervention area

Littoral, Ouémé and Plateau Departments

Local partners

Foyer Don Bosco

Description

In Benin, more than 660,000 children between 5 and 17 years old (nearly two-thirds of them girls) work in miserable conditions, exposed to all types of abuse. In large cities in the south, many of these youngsters—some of them immigrants from other communities, orphans or abandoned by their families—wander the marketplaces in search of a way to earn some money. They do not attend school and many had to abandon their studies at an early age. Unqualified and illiterate, their opportunities to shape their future and break free from the cycle of poverty are slim to none.

The project aims to protect the rights of these children and young people, especially their right to education. It targets 400 unschooled children in the cities of Porto Novo and Cotonou, so they can access the education system and finish their primary schooling, which, in turn, will enable them to acquire skills, further their development and access better employment opportunities.

The project’s main strategy lies in offering these children the opportunity to study in small schools that are set up within the marketplaces, where they find trained teachers and appropriate learning materials. There they follow an intensive study program that is adapted to their needs—the “Accelerated Course Program”—so that they can obtain their primary school certificate in a period of three years, instead of the six years in the formal education system. As such, they are able to make up for lost time and obtain the qualification they need to expand their employment horizons or continue studying. The children also receive psychosocial guidance to help improve their health, hygiene and emotional balance.

In the case of abandoned children who live in the street, the program offers them a place to sleep and wash up, where teachers listen to and guide them.

The intervention also aims to raise the child rights awareness among families, employers and society at large.

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Involving the community for quality schooling in Bembéréké

Beneficiaries
5,880 children and 11,861 adults
Duration
Active project

Intervention area

Municipality of Bembèrèkè, Bourgou Department

Local partners

FEE-Développement

Description

Despite the Beninese government’s efforts to improve the education system, the reality is that the approved educational laws and regulations are extremely difficult to apply. The action plans are not accompanied by the necessary economic or technical resources and, in many cases, the people responsible for their application do not have the necessary knowledge for this undertaking.  In the specific case of primary education, the reform proposed at the national level is based on the EQF initiative (École de Qualité Fondamentale, or Basic Quality Schools), an action plan built on a series of standards whose goal was to considerably reduce high levels of school abandonment and failure.

Overall, the country’s primary school dropout rate is 12%, a percentage that is even higher in the most disadvantaged rural communities and especially high among girls. Poverty, early marriage, a shortage of schools and a lack of families’ involvement are some of the factors leading children to drop out of school early. School failure, on the other hand, is intimately tied to poor quality teaching, a lack of teacher training, the persistence of maltreatment in the classrooms or deficient health conditions among the population, which inhibit many children from regular attendance due to their frequent illness.

The project aims to implement the EQF standards for quality schools in the 20 centers where we work in the municipality of Bembéréké, through the meaningful implication of the communities, and especially the children, their families, teachers, school principals and community leaders.

Special efforts will be undertaken with community councils and school management committees (bodies that have representatives of both the administration and the community) in order to enhance their technical capacities and guide them through the process of improvement.

In the case of children, the first step is to train them so that they know what their rights are and how they can defend them. From there, they are taught to organize themselves through children’s committees, in which they learn to debate and participate in the schools’ functioning, proposing improvements and expressing their needs and desires.

The project also contemplates actions to raise child rights awareness among all the agents involved.
 

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Improving child protection in Benin

Beneficiaries
The entire 0 to 18-year-old population
Duration
Completed Project

Intervention area

All departments of Benin

Local partners

ReSPESD

Description

For several years, social organizations have been lobbying the Beninese government for the ratification of a legal framework for Child Protection, which would enable them to work towards the effective fulfillment of children's rights.<0} Representatives of ReSPESD, a network of organizations working for the protection of children in vulnerable situations, has participated worked with the Ministries of Family and Justice to advance this process, but progress been slow due to bureaucracy and the lack of real commitment and dedication on the part of the State.
 
This project aims to pressure politicians and state officials for the approval of various legal instruments that will strengthen the country's legal framework for Child Protection: Benin's Child Code; the ratification of The Hague Convention, which regulates Child Rights and addresses cooperation with respect to international development; and the law on the protection and rights of persons with disabilities.
 
The action plan includes an assessment of the status of the country's children—in coordination with other organizations in ReSPESD—and the analysis of the abovementioned laws, as well as the subsequent negotiation with key stakeholders (including ministerial leaders, representatives and politicians) to obtain the necessary approval.
The new laws should establish a regulatory framework for the adequate protection of children in Benin.
 
This project complements Educo’s efforts to reinforce the structures and technical capacities of Child Protection organizations working in the country.

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