Guinea: Aïssatou Cissoko, schoolgirl

Aïssatou Cissoko, schoolgirl in Guinea

Aïssatou Cissoko is about to take her final school-leaving examinations. This is certainly not an everyday occurrence in Guinea where not all children of school age go to school and where only half of all girls make it past year 6. Thanks to the supplemental teaching programme specifically for socially disadvantaged girls that GIZ is providing on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Aïssatou Cissoko has managed to catch up quickly. Some 11,000 girls have benefited from this programme over the past ten years.

What are your plans for the future?

After I leave school I’d like to go to university to study medicine. I’d like to treat the weak and help heal the sick. My favourite subject at school is biology, and English too. I’ve liked those subjects ever since I was at primary school. In biology I’m now learning about the human organs; I’m sure that will come in useful when I get to university.

What has your family got to say about that?

I have three younger and two older siblings and I live with my mother and grand-mother. My mom supports me. She says I should go to school and take the extra lessons. I only help out at home with the domestic chores at the weekend or when I don’t have any more homework to do.

How are the supplemental teaching classes organised?

The lessons take place twice a week in the afternoon. There are always two teachers there. One explains the subject to us at the blackboard while the other works with us in groups. Every group wants to be the best. The teachers give us a maths challenge, for example. We read it out loud and try to solve it. Or we read French texts. We also go outside into the school playground where we sit in a circle and recite poems or rhymes. In that way we learn how to speak French in front of a larger group of people.

Have you made any new friends as a result?

I have three proper friends in the supplemental teaching class. I get on well with them because we share the same concerns and because we don’t always get great marks at school. I can talk to them openly and they’re certainly not lazy; on the contrary, we spur each other on. The classes are also attended by girls who before only stayed at home and have never been to school.

How would you define happiness?

Happiness for me is being content, working and helping my family and others.


        
    
Thanks to the additional lessons, Aïssatou Cissoko now knows how to use Word and Excel. Photos: Idriss Kpange
Thanks to the additional lessons, Aïssatou Cissoko now knows how to use Word and Excel. Photos: Idriss Kpange

        
    
Aïssatou Cissoko’s hometown is situated northeast of the capital city Conakry. Nearly 100,000 people live in Mamou.
Aïssatou Cissoko’s hometown is situated northeast of the capital city Conakry. Nearly 100,000 people live in Mamou.

        
    
GIZ provides the girls with pens and exercise books. Many parents would not be able to afford them.
GIZ provides the girls with pens and exercise books. Many parents would not be able to afford them.

        
    
Aïssatou Cissoko has found new friends through this project. Like her, they have difficulties at school, too.
Aïssatou Cissoko has found new friends through this project. Like her, they have difficulties at school, too.

        
    
Besides supplemental teaching for girls, the project also supports further training for teachers.
Besides supplemental teaching for girls, the project also supports further training for teachers.

        
    
A hospital in Mamou - perhaps this is where Aïssatou Cissoko will soon be working. She would like to stay in her hometown.
A hospital in Mamou - perhaps this is where Aïssatou Cissoko will soon be working. She would like to stay in her hometown.

        
    
In her free time, Aïssatou Cissoko helps do the cooking and looks after her younger brothers and sisters. Her older siblings have already left home.
In her free time, Aïssatou Cissoko helps do the cooking and looks after her younger brothers and sisters. Her older siblings have already left home.

        
    
The extra lessons are not only about mathematics and French, but about HIV prevention and health.
The extra lessons are not only about mathematics and French, but about HIV prevention and health.