IMAGINE a better school
By Janella Nelson, Basic Education Adviser, Plan USA
I first saw the impact of Plan's IMAGINE project at a school, in the village of Boulbole Goumande, located two hours from Plan’s office in the capital of Niamey.
At the time of my visit, the school had a student population of over 260 — and growing. Yet the two permanent classrooms built by the government had ceased to hold all the children. To keep the kids in school, the community had decided to build more classrooms out of straw. These straw schools, known as hangers, did not protect the children from the rain, heat, or the cold and, at times, were even eaten by animals.
Plan is now constructing three additional permanent classrooms to help hold the 263 students in this school. Adam Bourkima, the Director of the school, spoke about Plan, the IMAGINE project, and the positive impact of community involvement in the project: “It is my second year as the Director of this school. Now, to see my school becoming a proper school, it is making my dream come true.”
He added that 45 new students have enrolled in the school since the construction has begun and both the community and the teachers are starting to express pride in their school. When teachers in Niger went on strike for two months this year, the teachers at Boulbole decided not to because they were so happy about their future school.
Giving their children opportunities they never hadThe support of communities has been critical to the success of the project. Communities have put in place parent teacher associations, mother associations, and school management committees that work closely with Plan.
In meeting with the school management committees, I talked with mothers and parents whose resolve to educate their children is stronger because of their lack of chances in life. None of the members had the opportunity to go to school.
As one female member explained, “I never had the chance to be educated and to go to school. I can not read or write. I do not know what it is like to write a letter. I do not want our children to have the same fate.”
These members are encouraging families to send children to school and are actively engaged in the monitoring of the IMAGINE project. “We want to now go to school too,” said an elderly male member of the school management committee.
Working together with these communities, Plan will be able to meet their goal of increasing the number of girls who enroll and stay in school.
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