Burkina Faso ranks amongst the lowest in the world Human Development Index (182nd out of 187 countries).The country is lagging far behind in education targets, with only 58% youth literacy rate, 52% attendance rate of primary school age children, 18% in lower secondary school and 5% in upper secondary school, with enormous gaps between urban and rural areas. Child labor and exploitation, due to extreme poverty, is a humanitarian concern, with an estimated 43% of children aged 5-17 engaged in child labor and 83% aged 1-14 who have experienced some sort of physical or psychological aggression from caregivers.
The Pistorio Foundation has partnered since 2006 with Centro Italiano Aiuto all’Infanzia (CIAI) in Burkina Faso, operating in one of the poorest rural areas of the country, where poverty concerns 51.7% of the population Our goal is to help improve the enrolment rate of primary and secondary school children in the Boulkiemdé province.
Since 2006, the Foundation has supported hundreds of children’s scholarships and built a primary school in the Village of Nibagdo and subsequently a secondary school for over 700 students in the nearby village of Sogpelcé,. Scholarships covered tuition costs, uniforms, books, stationery, and basic hygiene education and health care. The school buildings are complete with sanitation facilities, kitchen and canteen, a water well, and the secondary school has also a library and computer room.
In May 2019, the Foundation signed an agreement with CIAI for a new project: “Girls in Bloom”, which aims to prevent child exploitation in rural villages and targets primarily girls who, more often than boys, are left behind and excluded from an education, as they are forced to help their families or marry young and have children. The project provides scholarships for girls covering school fees and materials which families are unable to afford; running of the school canteen; basic health care including annual check-ups and partial coverage of medical expenses; teacher training to improve teaching content and techniques; awareness raising amongst the community on the risks of child labor and the importance of education to prevent exploitation. Many children walk several kilometres every day to reach school, and having a meal in school is crucial for their health and helps motivate them and their families to send their child to school. In some cases, that is the only meal they have all day. Many children on scholarship live with relatives as parents often migrate to neighbouring countries like Ivory Coast in search of jobs. Most families live in basic huts lacking running water, electricity and toilets. Agricultural workers struggle to live from their harvest often barely sufficient even for themselves. Without support, children are unable to attend school.