Benin on track to achieve universal primary education
Cotonou -Ten years since the adoption of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Benin is today on track to ensure primary education for all by 2015, provided current efforts are maintained.
This is the findings of a special report reviewing Benin’s progress toward the achievement of the MDGs, prepared by the Government of Benin with the help of the UN.
According to the report, primary education gross enrollment ratio increased to 109.1 percent in 2009 from approximately 68 percent in 1980. This sharp increase, beyond 100 percent, is attributed to a surge of children outside the primary school age, six to 11 years old, entering the first year of the primary education cycle.
This positive trend is attributable to key policies adopted by the Government, with support from partners such as UNDP, the most important being the decision to increase the education budget to 24 percent of GDP, and the introduction of free primary school education in 2006.
The Government also adopted several policies to include the community in the development process. They created the “Clubs of Mothers” to visit parents in their homes and educate them on the value of education. Additionally, they conducted surveys on girls enrollment; deliveries of school supplies and provided assistance to children in distress.
Benin is also witnessing favourable trends with regard to lowering the infant mortality rate and enhancing access to drinking water.
However, major challenges remain. For instance, 51.6 percent of the population lives below the threshold of one dollar per day; and for more than a decade now, this indicator has remained substantially unchanged.