by -- JULIA TOFAN
As part of the Dreams That Could Be project, we're partnering with Cercle Social to tell the stories of students in Benin who are changing their lives with education.
Inspired by children with big dreams, like Eugene Adihounde, who aspires to be a policeman, and Ella Agoundo, who aspires to be a doctor, this project is sharing the stories of children who are overcoming great adversity to get an education.
Cercle Social is a nonprofit organization founded in 2010 by a group of young Benin citizens. The nonprofit supports students in rural Benin in attaining secondary education. The organization was named "Cercle Social" to recognize the importance of human connection in working towards a common purpose. Benin, with a population of 10 million, is located in tropical, sub-Saharan West Africa. The nationally spoken language is French, but English is commonly taught starting in middle school and indigenous languages like Fon and Yoruba are sometimes spoken at home. The country has made education a priority, devoting 23% of the budget to education and instituting free primary education. These changes have significantly increased enrollment and attendance rates, but challenges remain in making quality education accessible to all students. Though there are more students attending primary school, the number of schools and teachers has not changed proportionally, compromising the quality of education. Furthermore, secondary education still requires tuition and fees to attend. For many students, secondary education remains unaffordable.
Cercle Social has a vision in which all students in Benin get a secondary education, and its working towards making that a reality. Through projects like the Scholarship Project, which supports students financially and helps them meet academic standards, the Computer and Raspberry Pi Projects, which bring technology to classrooms, and the School Nutrition Assistance Project, which helps to solve the problem of malnourishment that affects 83% of the school population, Cercle Social is active in making a quality and affordable education possible.
Cercle Social's efforts have raised awareness about the importance of education, increased gender equity, and empowered students to succeed, guided by the core beliefs that all children deserve an education and human connection. In 2014 alone, Cercle Social supported 360 students. The president of Cercle Social, David Kebo, believes, "Giving is receiving. I am confident that all the students we are assisting will succeed and help their peers." Each of these student has a story, and Dreams That Could Be is sharing these stories to make sure that each student's voice is heard.