our work on Slavery in Niger
"EDUCATE A CHILD AND YOU EDUCATE A NATION." Classroom slogan
Anti-Slavery International’s work in Niger has focused on a new approach: the education of children in the communities most affected by slavery. In 2007, Anti-Slavery International and its local partner Timidria opened six primary schools for families emerging from slavery who wanted a better future for their children. Over 400 children attend our schools ever year, with roughly 50 per cent being girls.
For centuries, people from the slave-caste have been denied access to education, so this is the first time children of these communities have benefitted from formal schooling. The school canteen provides the children with breakfast and a meal at midday: in some cases, the only food children receive.
Community leaders have reported that these six villages have ‘risen up’, and the slave-owning ‘masters’ no longer regard them as under their control or enter the villages.
Meanwhile the children are achieving excellent results. An official school inspection showed an end of year test pass rate of 88%, in comparison to the national average of less than 60%.
Education has given the children an understanding of their rights and the confidence and ambition to follow careers in the future. Already 52 children have progressed to secondary school: unprecedented for children from communities affected by slavery.
None of the girls or women from these villages have been forced into marriage or sold as ‘wahaya’ (fifth wives)
To ensure that the schools are sustainable in the long term, we have successfully lobbied the Niger government to commit to take the funding and running of the schools and replicate the model.
HUB FOR A WIDER PROJECT
The primary schools act as a hub for other complementary projects in Niger. Social welfare officers play a critical role in linking the project to the parents, local leaders, regional and national authorities and general public.
The micro-finance fund has benefited 250 mothers who have started local projects. 10% of the profits of these projects go back into the schools. Small business loans with low interest allow women to buy animals to rear, including goats for making cheese to sell, and equipment for small businesses such as donkeys and carts to sell wood or straw. Funds were also raised to build wells in the three communities, so that children were not taken out of school to help find and retrieve water for their families.
Regular awareness-raising sessions on human rights and advocacy skills in the villages, including specific training on gender equality and women’s leadership, has a major impact: people from the villages took direct action to defend local services in their areas and recently one village group secured a cereal bank and free food supplies for their village.
We also provide legal support to victims of slavery, including the first ever prosecution for the crime of slavery
in May 2014 of the former ‘master’ since the anti-slavery law was passed in 2003. Anti-Slavery International and its partner Timidria took the case to court as part of our ongoing legal project.
Hadijatou’s story and her experience in slavery
Read more about slavery in Niger
HELP US END SLAVERY:SHARE THIS PAGE: