Cameroon's National Network of Mothers' Associations for Girls' Education (RECAMEF) is going into villages around the country to try and convince families and traditional leaders to send girls to school. This initiative is supported by UNICEF and Cameroon's Ministry of Basic Education and is part of the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
You’re watching UNICEF Television. These women want to see more girls going to school in northern Cameroon, so they’ve taken the task into their own hands. RECAMEF, an association of mothers, is going into villages to try and convince families and traditional leaders to send girls to school. In some cases they also provide financial help to pay for school fees. With support from UNICEF and the Ministry of Basic Education, the association has grown over the years. The women, all volunteers, have created networks across the northern and eastern regions. They now have 250 branches. The first port of call for RECAMEF in all villages is the community leader. They turn up en masse to make sure their message is heard. It’s crucial to get his support in order to be able to meet with parents.
LAMIDO BOUBA HAMMAN [Community Leader]
Now the girls who are going to school are able to have jobs and we even have women ministers.
It’s common here for parents to just send boys to school because they’re seen as the breadwinner. Girls are traditionally married off at an early age, so parents are reluctant to invest in their education. In some parts of the north only one in five students is a girl. But here in the village of Perma, girls’ attendance has risen almost 50 percent over the last two years. When 12-year-old Hawa was forced to drop out of school two years ago, she was devastated. Her days were spent at home doing domestic chores. Her parents couldn’t afford the fees and decided that her brother should go to school instead. Thanks to RECAMEF, Hawa is now going back to school and has the opportunity to pursue her dream.
HAWA MAMOUDOU [Student]
I love school. I want to study for a long time so that I can become a doctor.
RECAMEF’s Assiatou Abdullah says it’s a tough job changing attitudes - but very satisfying.
ASSIATOU ABDULLAH [RECAMEF]
I feel very happy when I see them going to school and I feel happy when I see them in studying class.
UNICEF is supporting 150 primary schools in the north and east by providing teacher training, books and education kits, which encourage girls to start and continue going to school.
VIJITHA EYANGO [UNICEF Education Chief, Cameroon]
RECAMEF is making inroads in the north, due to the fact that it’s the mothers of girls who are going out into the community identifying the problems and reaching out one by one to families and ensuring that those girls have no excuse not to be in school.
With support from the government and UNICEF, RECAMEF plans to build on their successes in Perma and reach out to another three districts next year - giving girls across Cameroon a brighter future. This is Salma Zulfiqar reporting for UNICEF Television. Unite for children.