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2007.05.30
* With mothers’ help, more girls are going to school in Cameroon * 20 Feb 2007 We are in Gayak, a small village in the extreme north of Cameroon. This region has the lowest rate of school enrolment in the country. Farm work, livestock, daily chores and more importantly, poverty, keep 1 in 3 boys and 1 in 2 girls from attending school. SOT (French) Fatima Sadomo, the (AME) Association coordinator: “At the beginning, in these regions, girls’ didn’t go to school. She was only prepared for marriage. This is the real problem. Even now it remains like that in some families. The fathers generally refuse to send the girls to school and the mothers can’t do anything about it. They are completely submissive.” Mothers of students set up an Association in order to encourage fellow mothers to send their daughters to school. One of the most frequent challenges in the area is the inability of women to read and understand their children’s health reports. The social success of educated women is also emphasized. SOT (Fulfulde) Aminata Djida, Gayak AME’s President: “I couldn’t go to school myself, so when I see other women that are educated; I want my daughter to go to school as well.” Sending and keeping girls in school is only possible through the solidarity that exists between mothers, and with support from the educational system, the state, development partners, and traditional chiefs. SOT (French) Hamidou, the traditional chief: “We want girls to be responsible; therefore we have to educate them as we would educate the boys.” The village has opened and runs a pre-school class. At the primary school, a children’s government was set up so that students could participate in questions related to daily life, and hygiene and to intervene when children leave school under the pressure of their parents. SOT: (French), Christine Inama, student: “My parents told me to abandon school. The children’s government came to visit us at home. As a result I returned to school. I hope everything will be alright. I want to keep going to school but we don’t have money.” Poverty remains a major obstacle to keeping girls at school. The strong mobilization of stake holders is what will help Cameroon achieve these objectives.
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