In Demsa, Cameroon, many families don’t have the money to buy pencils or workbooks for their school-age children. Without these simple tools, children cannot attend school.
Last week, 350 of Demsa’s most vulnerable children received the school supplies they needed and now are enrolled in elementary school.
This year alone, Counterpart’s Food for Education program has provided backpacks, textbooks, and pencils to 7,500 children at 150 schools throughout Cameroon.
“I’m happy to have these supplies because now I can join my class,” said Bouba Ibrahim, a student at Bogare Gaschiga Elementary School.
Since partnering with the program in 2012, Bogare Gaschiga Elementary School has seen increased enrollment and improved performance. The percentage of students to pass their year-end exam has jumped from 66 to 86 percent.
“There has been a positive change here,” said Ano Aristarkus, director of Bogare Gaschiga Elementary School. “Students are more punctual and attentive.”
On Sept. 25, about 2,800 Demsa residents gathered to celebrate the distribution of the school supplies and the start of the new school year. Counterpart’s local partner, the Cameroon Network for Girls’ Education (RECAMEF), emphasized to parents the importance of enrolling and keeping their children, particularly girls, in school.
“These supplies guarantee our children the chance to learn and become better equipped to be responsible, productive citizens in the future,” said Nkolo Eva Emmanuel Crepin, representative for the Senior Divisional Officer of Benoue. “We also need parents to do their part and keep their children in school.”
“As a parent, I’m glad more children can attend school,” said Demsa resident Ismaila Bouba. “After my neighbors died, their son dropped out of class because he didn’t have access to what he needed to attend school. Now, thanks to this program, he’s back in school with another chance to explore his full potential.”
Counterpart is also helping to increase school enrollment and improve the health of students throughout the North Region of Cameroon, where one in three children is malnourished. In addition to school supplies, students are provided hot breakfast and lunch every school day. As an incentive for families to keep their girls in school, girls with a 90 percent attendance record bring home a 10 kg. bag of rice each month.
Counterpart, in partnership with communities, has built 146 school kitchens and storerooms, 150 school libraries, and 150 community gardens, and served more than 16 million meals since 2012. Additionally, 42 latrines and 12 boreholes have been built.
Food for Education is a three-year program implemented by Counterpart and funded by the United States Department of Agriculture.