Japanese NPO opens free school for children in Niger

A Japanese nonprofit organization that provides a range of support to the West African country of Niger opened a school there April 7, where children who are unable to attend standard schools can learn to read and write. "Niger's road to development will open up if children there learn to read," said Hideko Fukuda, who heads the organization "Comment Niger" in Moriya, Ibaraki Prefecture, upon the opening of the new school, Terakoya. Tasked with such household responsibilities as fetching water, many Nigerien children are unable to go to school; the literacy rate in the country is said to be around 20 percent. According to the Human Development Index compiled by the United Nations Development Program based on average life expectancy, income and education, Niger was ranked last out of 187 countries last year.(Mainichi Daily News)