The consequences of free nursery and primary education in Benin

When the head of state, President Boni Yayi announced that Nursery and Primary Education was henceforth free a few weeks after the reopening of the 2006-2007 school year in Benin, there was a rush. Teachers, heads of schools and parents struggled to find desks, pencils and school text books for the additional pupils. Some years after this measure, the experiences have been bitter. Overcrowded classrooms, inadequate school infrastructure, a crying need for qualified teachers to train pupils. All this also had a negative effect on the training of the children.

The situation is not limited to only one public primary school. While acknowledging the reality of the problems raised by school heads, the Minister for Nursery and Primary Education, Eric Kouagou N’Da, contends that efforts have been made since 2006 following this measure, to offset the lack of teachers, which compelled parents to make financial contributions towards the recruitment of unqualified community teachers.

In spite of these efforts, Eric Kouagou N’Da admits that the needs were far from being met in the light of the effects of free education which each year draws a consierable number of children to school and which occasions the opening of new schools and new classrooms.

Those measures were intended to improve the standards of the pupils. This is because the creation of certain infrastructure should place not only the children in good learning conditions, but teachers also. However the way the latter are recruited creates problems on the field.

As a matter of fact, the Minister for Nursery and Primary Education, Eric Kouagou N’Da the Middle School Leaving Certificate no longer reflects the standard of pupils. He stressed that the adoption of this measure of free education had generated a lot of arguments and controversy around the difficulties observed in making available subventions particularly for remote areas, in addition to too many strike actions as well as late completion of construction projects. These difficulties, in his opinion, have also contributed to laxity on the part of some school heads who no longer put pressure on parents who now argue that the state takes care of the greater part of what used to be their responsibility.

By Bruno Sewade

The article was published April 11 2012 in the daily newspaper La Nation.

Read the full article in French Les conséquences de la gratuité des enseignements



Consequences of polygamous households on their offspring

In Benin polygamy is prohibited by existing laws. But the phenomenon is widespread in almost all villages in the entire country. It has become a social reality has disastrous consequences on the lives of women and children who are the victims simply left to their fate.

By Géoffroy Wusa

Published November 8 2011 in La Tribune de la capitale.

Read the summary in English, Summary by Geoffroy Wusa

Read the articles in French, Les misérables des foyers polygames et Un phénomène qui s’est empiré.

Read the orignal versions in French here.


The harmful effect of fertilizers and pesticides

Benin and Burkina Faso are two countries for which cotton is a cash crop. Since the cotton plant is high vulnerable to insects and other pests, the development of the cotton sector in both countries demands the use of chemical products from the mild to the very strong ones. Thus, fertilizers and pesticides employed to protect the cotton plant, do have a harmful effect first on the producers, those around them, the environment, particularly animals, plants as well expanses of water. Today, several studies conducted in Benin and in Burkina Faso, have all led to the conclusion that pesticides are everywhere and particularly in the meals of Beninese and the Burkinabe. From cotton producers who are contaminated during the handling of the cotton tree, to the contamination of water bodies and water tables to the collective suicides arising from inappropriate handling of dangerous products… the list is so long as to leave one wondering. Like the producers, all the stakeholders in the cotton sector, be they associations, the world of research, state agencies, recongnise that a tragedy is unfolding. A tragedy which questions the very relevance of the sector such as it is managed today.The Fauna, flora and water resources suffer.

By Aubin R. Towanou in collaboration with Abdou Razak Napon, journalist from Burkina Faso.

Published Octobre 31, 2011 in l’Informateur.

Read the article Le lourd tribut de la filière coton

Is the tap water in Parakou toxic?

The people of the city Parakou, Benin, do not trust their tap water. The water is rusty-coloured, leaving particles at the bottom of the glass. People suspect that the tap water is responsible for illness, and families choose to drink the water from the wells instead. Step by step, the journalist behind this investigation uncoveres the truth about the water in Parakou.

Par Gaston Yamaro

Broadcasted February 18, 2011 and Februar 19 in Radio ARZEKE FM.

Read a summary of the investigation: Summary by GastonYamaro

Listen to the radio programme in French: Part 1 and Part 2

The limestone deposite at Onigbolo – the misery and disappointment of the Holli people

The development of the Onigbolo limestone deposit in the nineteen eighties was seen by the Holli communities as manna, an opportunity to pull the village of Onigbolo of underdevelopment. Twenty years on, industrialisation certainly brought a change in the practices, and also improved to some extent the standard of living of the communities through the establishment of socio-community infrastructure, but the other hidden face of the iceberg reveals that this industrialisation is the destruction of the environment through the destruction of farming areas, air pollution as well as an awesome injustice as far as the royalties paid to the communities as compensation for the development of this limestone deposit are concerned.

By Philippe Adéniyi published  Fevbruary 11, 2011 in La Presse and February 17 2011 in l’Impartial Ilèma.

Read the article in English The lime stone deposit -The misery of the Holli people

Read the article in French « Sinminti » ou la misère et la désillusion des Hollis