Eighty volunteer teachers combat illiteracy in Burkina Faso
|Children at an elementary school in Iolonioro (Photo: UNDP)|
"The children were behind by a month and a half when I arrived," says Bibata Compaoré who is 29 years old and a voluntary teacher who has been in charge of the class since November 2008.
Burkina Faso has one of the highest illiteracy rates in the world with more than 70 per cent of illiterate people among adults, and a rate of school enrollment of only 44.6 per cent. As a result, Burkina Faso suffers considerably from a lack of teachers at primary school level. Throughout the whole of the country, stoppages of school operations, and classrooms with over 120 pupils, are an everyday occurrence.
The better to address this situation, more than 80 volunteers have been brought on board throughout Burkina Faso so as to work in primary schools. These young Burkinabè have all been trained at the National School for Primary School Teachers. While awaiting the integration test, which enables them to become qualified teachers, they work as volunteers in the context of the Burkina Faso National Volunteers Programme (PNVB).
The PNVB is a new programme, financed by the UNDP, the United Nations Volunteers Programme and the government of Burkina Faso. The objective of the PNVB is to contribute to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by enlisting the services of volunteers.
"A considerable proportion of the population of Burkina Faso is illiterate and at the same time a considerable number of individuals who are trained, skilled and available to work are not valued. It is in this area that the PNVB plays an important role," emphasizes Hélène Agnelli, the programme coordinator.
|Bibata Comporé, one of the volunteer teachers|
The programme consists of a total of 250 volunteers who not only work in the field of education but also in health, decentralization, economic development and the environment. After the current pilot phase 2006-2010, the government of Burkina Faso will become responsible for the running of the PNVB.