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An education and a job against the odds

A trainee teacher taking a class
A trainee teacher taking a class.

Plan International Burkina offers young women a scholarship scheme to access secondary school and a programme to help them progress to teaching careers, and we offer bicycles to young girls to help them get to school. In order to reduce violence at school and secure the school environment, we are promoting non-violent discipline in schools and many schools have been given posters on promoting a safe environment at school.

Odette Toe is 28 years old, and a new Plan International scholarship owner studying at the teachers’ training school. It is a dream fulfilled, and doors open for a better future for this girl whose illiterate father stopped supporting her formal education, feeling that it was completely useless to invest in girls’ education.

Once her father, Mouni Toe, married a second wife and had 3 sons, he stopped providing for Odette and her 3 younger sisters’ education needs.  The second wife was his favorite. Odette’s mother has 4 daughters and is given little consideration in the home because she gave birth to girls only. Her father decided to invest in the boys’ education. According to him, his daughters only needed to get prepared for marriage and to leave his home. 

Odette had however successfully completed her secondary school because her mother, a petty trader and farmer, paid for her four daughters’ school fees and supplies. But she could not afford Odette’s higher education charges. So Odette started to manage on her own, doing small jobs for about 10 years, helping her mother and her younger sisters.

One day, she heard that Plan International Burkina Faso was giving scholarships to vulnerable girls and young women wanting to study at the teacher’s training school. On a bicycle, she rode 100 kilometres from Tougan, her hometown, to the regional town of Dedougou to register and sit for the school entry test. She passed, wrote an application for the scholarship and was accepted.

She went back home to her father to inform him before going to the training school. Mouni, her father, was surprised and happy at the same time. He said: “So, you also will be like all these great women? I am very happy about you and will, from now on help you and your sisters.”

With courage and determination, Odette has succeeded in finding her way to the job of a professional teacher, and was also able to change the mind and attitude of her father about girls and their need for education.