Over half of Burkina Faso's population of 16.7 million are under
the age of 17, however very few if any, will live to see their
60th birthday, with a life expectancy of just 53.7 years.
Because of this 48.5%
of the population are children aged 14yrs or younger compared with
just 17.3% for the UK. Most children in Burkina Faso live in
poverty not least because of its lack of natural resources and
high density population.
Education for children in Burkina Faso is compulsory between the ages of
seven and fourteen, however
there is no enforcement regime and enrolment rates are poor, particularly for
girls who are often kept at home to help run the household and perform chores.
For example in one year, only 35% of all eligible primary school age
children were enrolled at school and just 8% actually attended secondary
school. Figures are far higher in urban areas. Despite this, when it is
affordable in a country where public education is not free, education is
held in high regard as an escape route from poverty and educated children
in Burkina Faso are held in high regard. In recent years there has been
increased gender equality in schools between boys and girls.
Burkina Faso children are brought
up to be respectful, polite, obedient, courageous and hard workers. There
is a strong emphasis on responsibility, family values and dignity in a
country which is 60.5% Muslim, 19% Catholic, 4.2% Protestant and 15.3%
Animist, a belief that souls exist not just in humans but also in animals
and plants as well as inanimate objects such as rocks and mountains as
well as rivers.
As in many countries, Burkina Faso has its fair share of street
children. With over 100,000 children there orphaned by AIDS alone, many, some
as young as seven, drift into urban areas, others arrive after their
parents migrate to find work or they are simply pushed out by their
families because of poverty. In one year alone it was estimated that 18%
of the country's entire population were orphans or abandoned children.
children who do stay at home the daily routine consists of
waking with the first cock crow around 5-6am followed by
undertaking household chores. Then its off to school for some
of the boys whilst many girls remain at home.
and more chores, when there is time to play, its football or
the hunting of birds and small animals with slingshots,
or swimming in any nearby lakes or streams where they exist.
The video documentary above explores life for children in