Dosso Programme Unit
Area: 31,000 sq. km
Population: 1,834,692 (2007)
Sponsored children: Around 11,600
Dosso is a dry tropical region whose population depends largely on subsistence farming, small-scale herding, and small commerce. Half the population is under 15, but only 67% of children attend primary school. Children have few opportunities and many suffer violations of their rights.
Opened in 1998, Dosso was Plan Niger’s first programme unit. The Dosso office works with 44 rural partner villages, reaching over 76,950 people, including sponsored children. It employs 23 staff, who work with the government and local partners to support projects in the following areas:
- water and sanitation
- child protection
- disaster risk reduction
- microfinance – small savings and loans schemes
Student governments promote child participation
In an environment where leadership roles are traditionally reserved for adults, Plan’s strategy of development through child participation is a big challenge. However, Plan Niger is turning children into active decision-makers through the creation of student governments.
Elected by their peers, the student presidents and ministers learn not only about democracy, but also about problem-solving and improving self-confidence. Integrated into the local school administration, the students seek recognition in the adults’ world, and their teachers oblige:
“They invite us to their meetings and participate in ours,” says Hassane, student government president in Dendiborakoira. “And they enforce our decisions.”
With 43 student governments set up, Plan has seen promising results. Students have organised clean-ups, health and hygiene days and inter-school sports matches. In the village of Kayan, a student government appealed successfully to local authorities for a football pitch at their school.
According to one Plan staff member, another student government realised that lateness was a big problem in their school. “They instituted a small fine for each time a student arrived late. Soon, all the parents in the village were making sure their children were on time!”
Now, other organisations have successfully copied Plan’s student government model elsewhere in Niger. Even individual teachers, many of whom were sceptical at first, are asking for help setting up student governments in their schools.
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