But it isn’t just getting children into schools that matters. In households where their parents may be illiterate, giving children extra support with learning can have life-changing outcomes. One of the challenges we face is geography – the sheer remoteness of some of the villages is an obstacle. Visiting in person, particularly in times of COVID-19, simply isn’t practical. Fortunately, however, technology is helping to provide a highly effective solution.
Jean Ouedraogo is a 16-year-old boy in the 3rd class at Masheh secondary school of Goueda Chantier village. He has been one of the beneficiaries of a joint initiative by the Nestlé Cocoa Plan, the International Cocoa Initiative and ENEZA to support children’s education. The system supplements traditional school education with an SMS-based education tool that both informs and tests children.
This blended-learning approach was developed by ENEZA in 2011 when it was founded by two Kenyan teachers. The company provides curriculum-aligned revision material in all subjects for primary and secondary school learners. On average, children using it enjoy a 23% academic performance improvement after nine months. This proved to be the case for Jean too.
“I have been involved in this program for the last 3 years,” says Jean. “I use my cell phone regularly for courses like mathematics and physics. When I started, I was in class 1 and I had an average grade of 13/20. At the end of the year, I got 18/20! I really liked working with this tool,” he enthused.
We focus the opportunity on children who have been identified as being in child labour or at risk. At COOP CA GOH, one of 95 cooperatives supplying Nestlé with sustainable cocoa beans, 60 at-risk children had an opportunity to try the platform. The children got a cell phone and free courses in different subjects aiming at strengthening their knowledge.
The parents were happy to see their children enrolled. Gilbert Ouedraogo, Jean’s father, said: “Since he started working with the cell phone, he has become much more interested in school.”
In total, 500 at-risk children or children already identified in child labour have benefited from this program so far. We will continue to enroll more children into the program following its success.