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Writing off illiteracy in Benin

SOS Children is working to improve the literacy rate in Benin
SOS Children is working to improve the literacy rate in Benin

SOS Children is aiming to lower the number of illiterate adults in Benin by teaching the next generation how to read and write. Through SOS Schools, staff are giving equal opportunities to children of all abilities.

In the town of Dassa-Zoumé, SOS operates a nursery and a primary school. In 2014, a three-year-old child named Lionel was admitted into the nursery. He has be dealing with a speech delay all of his life. Teachers noticed the child’s disability and have been working with a speech therapist to evaluate and improve the child’s communication. The therapist designed lessons specific to the child’s ability. Before the end of the school year, the three-year-old was able to talk. Lionel's parents explain that they are overjoyed with the toddler’s progress.

“Lionel's a very observant child. When he comes home from the speech therapist, he tells me every detail of the appointment. I could not be more proud of my son. SOS Children is committed to ensuring every child, no matter their ability, can succeed,” said the Lionel's mother.

Change through education

While the enrolment rate in Benin indicates a level of commitment to education, it does not necessarily reflect children's participation in school. Roughly, only 41% of adults can read and write in Benin. Education reduces child marriage and early pregnancies as girls are able to learn about, and explore employment opportunities after graduation. It also equips girls with resources on pregnancy and birth, which helps to reduce maternal mortality. With almost half of the 10 million population under the age of 15, education is vital to Benin’s long-term sustainability.

The SOS Primary School is a critical institution in Dassa-Zoumé with an enrolment of over 220 students. The school is known for the quality education it provides children in the community. A team of teaching specialists have implemented a programme to improve student’s reading and writing skills, knowledge in maths and teach them moral and civic education.

School children at the SOS primary school in Dassa-Zoumé, Benin
The SOS Primary School is a critical institution in Dassa-Zoumé

The programme has raised the performance of the pupils. Three students passed the First School Leaving Certificate with excellent results, featuring among the best in all divisions of the area for the 2014/2015 school year. The student’s academic excellence has boosted the school’s popularity in the community. As a result, the local government has selected the SOS Primary School in to host a digital library for the entire community.

The library is equipped with laptops that contain information related to different study programmes in secondary schools and colleges in Benin. A projector accompanies the equipment.

“Children and community members are welcome to use the school’s digital library whenever they need. We wanted to create a space where people are inspired to make a lasting change for children in the community, and we are doing it through education,” explains Eden, an instructor at the SOS Primary School.

SOS Children is committed to work in the best interest of children. In 2014, we provided over 134,700 children, young people and adults an education. Learn more about our live-saving work.