The Hamsa Girls Education Center will open in October 2018! The mission of the center is to provide formal education opportunities and skills training to girls and young women in Niger to break the cycle of multi-dimensional poverty, reduce early marriage rates and improve their overall quality of life.
The center will address the need for more opportunities for girls to attend secondary school and gain valuable life skills, which will open doors to more job opportunities. Specifically, the center will offer:
A recovery program for girls who dropped out of primary school or middle school and want to continue their education
A quality middle school and high school
Vocational & life skills training
Construction began in 2016 with the installation of a solar well and water tower. In addition, with funding from rotary clubs in Maryland and Minnesota, a security wall was completed around the perimeter of the campus. The first classroom was finished in December 2017. In March 2018, the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rotary Club provided funding for the construction of latrines to be completed in 2018.
Laying the Foundation for Hamsa Girls Education Center
Also in 2018, three additional classrooms will be constructed with the funds raised through the “Laying the Foundation” capital campaign. These classrooms will be utilized for traditional middle school classes and to facilitate a recovery program for girls who dropped out of primary school or middle school and want to continue their education.
At capacity, the Hamsa Girls Education Center will benefit over 150 full-time students and 75 part time program participants every year. With scholarships and dormitories we will provide rural girls the option to stay in school.
Scholarships for Girls
The Secondary School Girls Scholarship Program funds the costs of school fees, school supplies, and living for secondary school-age girls. Girls chosen for this program are from disadvantaged families and live too far from the closest secondary school to live at home. To provide a scholarship for a secondary school girl, please donate using a one-time gift or monthly-recurring gift (and indicate “Secondary School Scholarship” for the purpose).
Questions about the Hamsa Center
1. Who are the partners in Niger on this project, and how did RNC get introduced to them?
The Hamsa Girls Education Center Committee is a group located in Tahoua City. They are in the process of formalizing as a Nigerien NGO. The President and Vice President of the Committee are local business leaders involved with other NGO’s. The Secretary works as a Nurse and the Treasurer is a Professor.
The Committee was formed by the U.S. liaisons and representatives, Char and Ibrahim Harouna. They donated the land, and worked with the local committee to formulate the concept and introduce RNC to the Hamsa Girls Education Center. Ibrahim Harouna is from Tahoua, Niger.
2. Since the first classroom has been completed, does this mean the $45,000 will be used to build one additional ground floor classroom and two second-story classrooms?
Yes. The funds raised will be used to build an additional classroom on the first level, a set of stairs and two classrooms on the second level.
Eventually, the upper classrooms will be refurbished as dormitory rooms.
3. How many girls will start taking classes in October? How many teachers will there be in October?
Formal Secondary Students with one classroom teacher = 15 students
Recovery Students with one classroom teacher = 15 students
Student Enrollment Goal: 30
Capacity of two classrooms with two Teachers: 70
4. What is the recovery program for girls who have dropped out of school? When will it begin?
The recovery program is designed to help adolescent girls re-enter and/or support their continuation into secondary school. The 2-year program will start in October 2018. Our target is to assist out-of-school girls or those with a severely disrupted primary school education acquire literacy and numeracy skills so they may re-enter or increase their chances of continuing in a formal education setting at the middle school level. In the future, the HGEC will also offer additional skill-based programs for girls who are unable to continue in a formal education setting.
5. When is a dormitory going to be constructed? How many girls will be able to stay there?
The upper level classrooms will be refurbished into dormitory rooms when the second building of classrooms is complete in the 2020 or 2021. 20-25 girls will be able to stay in the rooms.
6. Who will run the school?
A part-time director will oversee and operate the school in the first year. This position will become a full-time position in the 2019-2020 school year. The Director will be responsible for hiring two full-time teachers, locating and registering students as well as many other administrative tasks. She will serve as the liaison between the Committee, teachers and community. By 2021, there will be a full-time administrator, a full-time director, 3 full-time teachers, 2 teacher assistants and a guardian. A dormitory mother and cook will be added when the dormitories are complete.
7. When will part-time students start attending classes? Will they attend at different times of the day than full-time students?
Completion of the additional classrooms and the hiring of two teachers allows all students to attend class at the same time, including recovery program students. The classrooms are large and, thus, can be subdivided should registration be more than expected.
8. Where in Niger is the Hamsa Center, and how would you describe the city/region it is in?
The HGEC is located in Tahoua, which is the capitol city of the region. There are 123,000 residents. The region is 113,371 square kilometers with a population of 3,983,172. It is a culturally diverse area that introduces the arid desert terrain to the sahel. Rural areas of Tahoua are home to some of the poorest and most disadvantaged girl populations in the world.
The HGEC is directly across the street from the only Polytechnical University in Niger. Furthermore, Tahoua is home to many advanced schools such as a teacher, nursing and business colleges. Thus, a student who attends the HGEC will have access to these other opportunities as well.
9. Is there a plan to build secondary school classrooms? Where will the Hamsa Middle School graduates attend secondary school?
HGEC will be a full secondary school with a middle school and a high school. A second 5-classroom building will be constructed in 2020 or 2021. Once students complete their studies at the HGEC, there are opportunities to continue their studies at the University or other higher education institutions in Tahoua. Partnerships and relationships for scholarships will be formed to facilitate this continuation in these institutions.
10. Will girls who are married be able to attend the school?
Girls from all backgrounds have the ability to attend. Most often, it is not a girl’s choice to leave school and/or be married. The hope is that HGEC programs will prevent early marriage from occurring by offering parents a good culturally sensitive solution for their girl. However, should a young women/girl already be married, it is even more dire that she continue her education or acquire literacy and numeracy skills to help alleviate the severe impacts of early marriage.