No More Fighting for Space

Written by: Priscilla Sogah

Grace sat on the right end of a wooden desk with three other students, leaving little space for each pupil. With a little push from Grace’s end, the last person on the left end of the desk would fall. Grace and her colleagues had to take turns to be able to write comfortably. Their situation was the result of the lack of adequate desks and classroom space to accommodate the growing school population where classroom sizes reach, on average, as many as 90 pupils. The school building, like the desks, is also inadequate, and the building’s three unit classroom was inundated with holes in the roofing, thereby halting school activities whenever it rained.

Furthermore, students of Ècole Primaire Publique d’Amanikro, a primary school in Amanikro, Cote d’Ivoire, also had to take a three hour journey during break time to eat at home, because the school had no canteen.  Just getting to school is a challenge for some, and many children under nine years old were often discouraged from attending school because their parents considered it risky for them to walk seven kilometers to the Agbanou and Kpada communities, where some students attended school due to the limited space for learning in Amanikro.

Now, a year later, the makeshift three unit classroom is history. In its place is a well-ventilated and adequately furnished three unit school block sparkling in a coffee brown and cream color, all thanks to the power of well-governed communities.

Through CARE’s community development committees (CDCOMs), an engagement platform that enables communities to identify developmental challenges through a participatory research appraisal processes and develop a community action plan, the plight of the community school gained popularity in the course of the Amanikro community engagement. The need for a modern school block came first on the community’s priority assessment list.

The outcome today is a high quality school block that advances childhood education.

Grace shared, “Before, I wasn’t happy coming to school because I always felt uncomfortable sitting and writing. The space apportioned to me on the desk was very small. Often we even fought over space to sit. Now, I am happy. My school looks very beautiful and there’s enough desk for every student.”

With the support of CARE and the Coffee-Cocoa Council of Cote d’Ivoire, today Grace sits comfortably on a desk for two. She has enough space to relax her left arm while she writes with the other.