OUAGADOUGOU, January 13, 2022 — When she was a child, Faizal Jessica Makango Taroré always loved to play with the toy robots given to her by her parents. Her dream of pursuing a career in the field of robotics was born from this love. But her passion was truly ignited when she obtained a very high average in the Brevet d’étude du premier cycle (BEPC) or Junior High School Diploma.
These outstanding results earned her a place as a boarder at the National Science High School of Ouagadougou. At age 16, Faizal is now one of the brightest students in her first-year high school class (lycée) and fully intends to become an engineer in robotics when she completes her studies. “My favorite subjects are Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry. My grades range between 18 out of 20 and 20 out of 20,” she says with a smile.
Students at the school come from all over the country, and are chosen on the basis of their performance in the BEPC. They are all brilliant and the pace of work is intense. “I get up at 4:30 a.m. I say my prayers and go to the classroom to do revision, before going to the dining room at 6:30 a.m. for breakfast. After that, I have classes until midday. I do a brief revision before classes resume.” In the evening, at the end of the school day, Faizal allows herself a brief respite; she waters the tree that she planted in the schoolyard. “After that, I have a shower and rest for a while. After dinner, I again do revision until 11:00 p.m., before going to bed.”
Promoting parity between girls and boys …
Unlike most schools in Burkina Faso, where boys outnumber girls, the Science High School of Ouagadougou boasts almost as many girls enrolled as boys (97 girls to 101 boys).
Quite apart from the social norms, such as child marriage, which are the root causes of the disparity between the number of girls and boys enrolled in school, many girls are prevented from attending school because of security problems. This problem is especially prevalent in rural areas. Many parents are afraid to allow their daughters to make the long trek along isolated roads to attend high school, which in some cases may be located tens of kilometers from their home.
It is for this reason that the science high school is equipped with dormitories, where girls may stay as boarders. The dormitories are also intended to provide equal opportunities for success to students from rural communes, who are forced to abandon their studies because of a lack of infrastructure and limited financial means.