COVID-19 response

Allocation: US$11 million

Years: 2020-2021

Grant agent: AFD/UNICEF

Key documents:

The US$11 million COVID-19 grant supports:

  • Strengthened system resilience and coordination with the national budget through Niger’s sector pooled funding mechanism, while also responding effectively to immediate needs
  • Distance learning by radio, complemented by the distribution of printed materials for the most marginalized populations
  • Institutions that provide remedial or alternative education where formal schooling is not available
  • Safe reopening of schools with WASH interventions
  • Refugee or displaced children through the distribution of radios and school meals
  • Girls by addressing the barriers to learning they face, with back-to-school campaigns and menstrual hygiene kits for the new school year

The program is supported by two grant agents with complementary roles: Agence Française de Développement and UNICEF.

In late March 2020, the UNICEF office in Niger received a GPE grant of US$70,000 to support the Ministry of Education in planning its response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Education in Niger

The government of Niger is focused on improving the long run performance of the education sector through launching several major reforms.

The education sector in Niger faces several challenges that negatively affect the sector’s progress. Universal primary education coverage and completion is hindered by a high population growth rate, low enrollment rate, and high dropout rate.

Access and completion is worse among vulnerable groups including girls in rural areas, children in nomadic areas, and children with disabilities. Niger’s education sector is also affected by frequent weather shocks.

The education & training sector plan for 2014-2024 reaffirms the commitment of the government to making education and training a priority.

The plan outlines a series of priorities, including:

  1. Improve the quality of basic education by introducing mother tongue instruction in early grades, bettering pedagogical supervision, and increasing the supply of teaching and learning materials.
  2. Continue the recruitment of state-paid contract teachers and decrease reliance on civil service teachers.
  3. Establish a new recruitment and redeployment strategy to relocate teachers to rural areas.
  4. Develop incentive programs to increase girls’ enrollment and retention.
  5. Extend pre-school coverage through community structures and constructing classrooms, especially in rural areas.
  6. Implement a school construction program to adequately meet population pressures.
  7. Improve the learning environment through curricula revision, decreasing the pupil/teacher ratio, and producing contextualized materials.
  8. Create an environment conducive to improving the relevance of higher education to create skilled human capital through various programs involving teacher development, strengthening scientific research, and expanding higher education offers.
  9. Implement a literacy and non-formal education program to reach those who have never attended school or have dropped out.

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In the 3rd grade classroom at Ecole Patti, near Makalondi in Niger’s Tilaberri Region, four Fulani girls huddle around a single textbook. But they struggle to read the words. While it’s a given that learning outcomes are affected when students must share a textbook among four students, this is not a textbook issue - it is a language issue.
Credit: GPE/Kelley Lynch
There are 10 ethnic groups in Niger, with 10 different local languages. However, under Niger’s traditional primary school curriculum, students learn in French with teachers who only speak French, but not the local languages.
Credit: GPE/Kelley Lynch
Niger has one of the lowest literacy rates in the world. With the support of GPE, Niger’s Ministry of Education is piloting a new curriculum in 500 schools in three regions of the country, including Niamey, the capital. The new curriculum uses local language almost exclusively in the early grades and gradually introduces more and more French over students’ six years of primary school.
Credit: GPE/Kelley Lynch
Kadidia N’Diaye is a second grade teacher at Ecole Madina III, one of the pilot 500 schools in Niger. Kadidia has been a teacher for 19 years, and for all but the last two years she has taught using the traditional Francophone curriculum, “It was really hard to teach with the traditional system,” she says. “The new curriculum makes teaching much easier."
Credit: GPE/Kelley Lynch
The new curriculum and the textbooks that accompany it have also been made more relevant to the lives of the students who are using them: “Before, most of the situations presented in the textbooks were not something we would find in our own local environment,” says Kadidia. “But now the books feature things the children see every day like a markets or, like the lesson we are doing today, a blacksmith’s shop."
Credit: GPE/Kelley Lynch
A student practices vocabulary words from the blacksmith’s shop scenario in Kadidia N’Diaye’s second grade classroom. “Today I sold some stuff and customers came to buy things from me,” says student Faysel Sumeila, 7. “I learned the word for rake in Zarma, and shovel. I didn’t know those things, but today I learned them.”
Credit: GPE/Kelley Lynch
After practicing at the board with several students, the rest of the class practices writing words from the blacksmith’s shop example. "Because it’s relevant and it’s in the local language, it is much easier for the students to understand, and because of the training I received, I can use it to create situations like this to make learning fun,” Kadidia says.
Credit: GPE/Kelley Lynch
"It is easier for me as a teacher because I can easily pass on the learning to the students. And it is easier for the students because they receive everything in their own language. They can freely express themselves and understand what is being talked about. And for me, the biggest difference is that, right from the first grade the children can read—easily and flawlessly," Kadidia explains.
Credit: GPE/Kelley Lynch
The results are already impressive. Studies comparing student performance in traditional (Francophone) schools, Franco-Arabic schools and bilingual schools (where students learn in their mother tongue and French), found that bilingual schools ranked highest with French-speaking schools ranked last.
Credit: GPE/Kelley Lynch
Madina III Primary School Director, Namata Roukeyetou, has seen the benefits of the new curriculum first hand. “Since we started the reform two years ago, the students’ level of understanding has improved so much,” Ms. Roukeyetou says. “Students are more confident, more open minded, and they express themselves so much more fluently—even when they are speaking French."
Credit: GPE/Kelley Lynch
Development objective: reduce disparities, out-of-school children, and the uneven enrollment of children across regions.
Allocation: US$85,100,034
Years: 2020-2024
Grant agent: AFD
Utilization: US$39,962,281

The €77.3 million ($85 million) grant will contribute to the implementation of the education sector plan through the Education Sector Common Fund (Fonds Commun Sectoriel de l’Education - FCSE), which is a multi-donor pooled fund providing aid-on-budget financing, or ringfenced budget support. This modality represents a significant shift from the previous modality, which was not aligned with national systems.

The FCSE follows the priorities of the education sector plan, which is aligned with the annual operational planning and reporting framework of the government and ministries of education, as well as with the country’s public financial management systems.

GPE’s grant is composed of a fixed part of €54.11 million and a variable part based on results of €23.19 million.

The program has three main objectives:

  1. Reduce regional disparities in access and completion of basic education through a better consideration of the regional and local differences to address inequities in education access and outcomes, notably affecting girls and rural populations. This implies targeting improvements in the lagging regions of the country, deepening decentralization and devolution, better resource allocation to improve service delivery, greater efficiency in public expenditure and targeted improvements for learning in the early years of primary.
  2. Improve learning outcomes, prioritizing a focus on language and reading for the first three years of primary, and French and mathematics in 6th grade. This aims to increase the effectiveness and rationale of teacher placement, addressing challenges of unequal allocation and deployment of teachers to reduce inequalities, particularly between urban and rural areas.
  3. Increase government capacity, particularly of local actors, for improved governance of the education system, particularly for personnel management. This aims to strengthen governance and administration, including better evidence and needs-based resource allocation, coordination, and transparency of all resources (regular national budget and external aid), and improved quality of public expenditure for results.

Accelerated Financing Grant

The program financed by the US$17 million accelerated financing targets 6-15-year-old students. It responds to urgent needs resulting from multiple crises that have impacted the education sector and provides support to the recovery of the education system in line with the Education and Training Transitional Sector Plan (PTSEF), while reinforcing its resiliency in response to the recurrent crises the country faces.

A new measurement tool was used to identify the most vulnerable municipalities to benefit from the funding in the regions of Diffa, Tillaberi, Tahoua, Maradi, Agadez, Dosso, Niamey and Zinder. 6,615 schools with an estimated 750,000 students are targeted, representing about 28% of the primary school population. 

The program has 3 components:

  1. Support crisis preparation and response by developing crisis readiness and management plans at school level while providing schools in the most vulnerable areas with resources to cope with crises.
  2. Support for students and their families to ensure retention in school and educational continuity to prevent the risk of students dropping out, especially girls, in the most vulnerable municipalities through:
    • A school feeding program with support by UNICEF and WFP to support schools in the areas most affected by food insecurity
    • The provision of insecticide-treated mosquito nets
    • The distribution of kits to girls (school supplies, uniforms, menstrual hygiene management products, etc.), and the establishment of a mentoring system to encourage the pursuit of studies.
  3. Support to educational institutions to ensure the quality of teaching-learning in times of crisis and to data and information necessary to better define, guide and coordinate the response through:
    • Training 5,000 teachers in multi-grade class management, which will integrate appropriate didactic and pedagogical resources.
    • Providing contingency kits to schools.
    • Designing and implementing an early warning mechanism and monitoring of the situation of schools
    • Carrying out a community perception survey to assess the effect of actions implemented under the program and to contribute to policy dialogue.


All amounts are in US dollars.

Grant type Years Allocations Utilization Grant agent  
Accelerated funding 2021-2023 17,020,000 6,865,533 AFD, UNICEF  
COVID-19 2020-2022 11,000,000 8,864,664 AFD, UNICEF  
Program implementation 2020-2024 85,100,034 39,962,281 AFD  
2014-2019 80,046,125 80,046,125 WB Completion report
2009-2012 7,515,736 7,515,736 WB Completion report
2005-2008 8,000,000 8,000,000 WB  
2004-2005 5,000,000 5,000,000 WB  
Sector plan development 2018-2019 482,007 482,007 UNICEF  
2013 238,568 238,568 UNICEF  
Program development 2019-2020 242,347 242,347 AFD  
2013 123,927 123,927 WB  
  Total 214,768,744 157,341,188    
Data last updated: March 17, 2023

* This grant was approved in euros. The amount in euros is 77.3 million.

As part of its investment in civil society advocacy and social accountability efforts, GPE’s Education Out Loud fund is supporting:

  • The Coalition of Trade Union Associations and NGOs of the EFA Campaign in Niger (ASO-EPT Niger) for the 2019-2021 period. This builds on 11 years of Civil Society Education Fund (CSEF) support to national education coalitions for their engagement in education sector policy dialogue.
  • Girls Not Bride to mobilize an advocacy alliance across multiple partner countries, including in Niger, for the 2021-2023 period.

GPE had provided the Coalition of Trade Union Associations and NGOs of the EFA Campaign in Niger (ASO-EPT Niger) with a grant from the CSEF to support its engagement in education sector policy dialogue and citizens’ voice in education quality, equity, and financing and sector reform.

Last updated September 10, 2021