Every year, new female students enroll at the university and they entrust their infants under 12 months of age to children between the ages 7 and 10 years for childcare while they attend classes. The Gender and Equity Department of the University, emphasizing their role as a support and humanitarian service, has created this project to encourage female students to pursue their higher academic studies and to promote increased classroom attendance, while contributing to the protection of infant children. The implementation of this project will allow access to infants under 12 months of age to a safe and secure environment. It will work towards ending the laboring of school girls aged 7-10, and prioritize their education. It will also encourage university women to attend class regularly while increasing the number of female students who return to complete their collegiate studies. This project will also have a considerably positive impact on the studies of female university students. It will promote their integration and participation in the various scientific activities that the University has to offer. This project will also allow local healthcare professionals to complete health and nutrition sensibilisations for mothers, their children, and daycare staff.
Since 2010, numerous meetings with students, professors, and University officials were held in order to: first, create awareness of the priority of this project, and secondly to gain community support. The Gender Equity department conducted a university-wide survey to gauge and analyze the need for this service on campus. More than 170 people at the university were surveyed. Shortly afterward, the department engaged University authorities and requested that they provide a suitable space on university grounds for the success of the project. In the fall of 2019, the president of the department came to me to ask me if the Peace Corps could help support the project. The department sent a representative with me to follow the IST training. Arriving in the city, the representative and I worked on the expected objectives for the project and analyzed the possibility of realization using Peace Corps criteria. After having followed the training, the President and the representative convened a meeting with the Secretary General and myself to report on this training. In this meeting, the Secretary General agreed to make renovations to the building for the success of this project. The President also convened a meeting with the Gender and Equity department to explain and assign roles regarding the implementation of this project. The Gender and Equity department continues to be the driving force behind this project by actively involving community members and Peace Corps to realize this project.
Once the initial material investment has been made, the University will be faced with the maintenance of the center, including the building, the ongoing replacement and refreshment of materials, the clientele and the management and training of daycare employees University authorities have agreed, in writing, to take responsibility for any structural damages to the building. As for supplies, revenue from a flat fee charged to daycare clients monthly, will assure the upkeep of the toys, tables, uniforms, etc. The results of the campus survey the Gender Equity Department conducted revealed that students are able to pay 150,000 GNF (15 USD) as a registration fee each month. These funds will fund the salaries of the community women employed to provide care to the children, and support staff to help the daycare. Peace Corps volunteers will train day-care staff on child protection policies and safe personal health practices. These trainings will then be held by staff members and offered to student mothers. Mothers who receive these trainings and who benefit from the day-care service will serve as advocates for middle school girls. They can encourage the younger girls to pursue their educational careers by sharing with them how the University can facilitate their education even if they have children at an early age. This will help to change the mind set that children serve as obstacles for women who are pursuing their educational goals in a community that encourages motherhood at an early age.