PLAN INTERNATIONAL USA: Meet Aminata, who works to pay for her own school fees

Françoise Kaboré / Plan International
Meet Aminata, who works to pay for her own school fees

17.5% percent of girls in Burkina Faso advance from primary to secondary school. Even if they can afford their school fees, gender violence, sexual assault, and discrimination at school is so rampant that girls often drop out.

Aminata lost her father when she was seven years old. Her mother works hard to care for her six children, but money is tight. Aminata’s three older brothers and sister never attended school, but Aminata was determined to be different.

“When I was four years old, I remember being so jealous of the girls holding their school bags. So when I was nine years old, I started growing sweet potatoes to pay for my own school fees. Last year’s harvest was good, and I bought two goats with the income from my potatoes to increase my stock. I have sold one goat and bought a school uniform and a dress for Christmas with that money.”

Plan’s Promoting Equality and Safety in School (PEASS) Project works at the individual, community, school, and policy levels to address deeply-ingrained beliefs and practices that determine how girls can and should be treated to increase educational opportunities for girls. The PEASS project not only provides scholarships for girls to attend school, but it also addresses all forms of gender-based violence in schools and provides proper menstrual hygiene management on site so girls do not continue to miss class during their periods.

Aminata was one of the girls from her school to receive a PEASS scholarship from Plan. “When I came home with the scholarship my mother danced and sang, ‘God bless the person who gave my daughter this scholarship!’ It was a wonderful day when I heard about the scholarship opportunity. I can’t wait to start school again in the fall.” Now both Aminata and her younger brother can go to school. “I want to be an eye doctor when I finish school,” Aminata says.

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