19 December 2019

Quality education: Schools closer to home for children from 8 cocoa communities in Côte d’Ivoire

The dreams of the children of Atonihio and Wosso (Gagnoa), Krakro (Soubré), Kouassikro (Duékoué), Séably (Man), Petit Katiola (Guiglo), Ladjikro (Okrouyo) and Kouamekro (Guéyo), to have a school near to home, were realized from 10 to 14 December as part of the implementation of the Core Programme, funded directly by the members of the International Cocoa Initiative’s board. And it is not 12-year-old Michael, nor 10-year-old Esthar from Krakro who will disagree.

Both used to travel between six and and eight kilometres a day to go to school. As Michael confided, he was constantly tired: “I would get up at 6am and get ready to go to school. I was always tired because I was often surprised by the rain or the blazing sun on the way,” he explained. For other, luckier children, especially the youngest, the classes were held under a wooden courtyard covered with plastic sheet and mocked by other children in the region.

“They laughed at us. In 2017, we started our classes under a wooden courtyard covered with tarpaulins, with traditional stools (made of wood) as benches. Today, we have a beautiful, permanent building. We are now in the big family of schools,” said Mr. Kouakou Kouamé Bernard, the only volunteer teacher in the village of Krakro, who could not hide his joy.

It is the same feeling of joy experienced by Mrs. Zapré Marie-Noelle, mother of six children, the last of whom is enrolled in the EPP Atonihio, during the handing over of the keys of their new school built by ICI. A school that is a huge relief for parents.

“Imagine a 5-year-old child who has to travel one kilometre every day to go to school, go home at noon to eat, come back in the afternoon for class and go home at 5pm. It was a problem,” she said. “There were children who got sick regularly because of the sun. When it rained the school supplies would sometimes get wet.”

For Kouassi Elie, a pupil in the cm2 class in Kouassikro, it was not the long hours of walking that was the problem, but rather the learning environment. His school was located in his community. But it was covered with a tarpaulin and lacked a real roof. The children were exposed to the weather and especially to reptiles: “Our classroom was built of Chinese bamboo. We used to go, but snakes would come into our classrooms and frighten us (…) The teachers would kill the snakes,” he said, before saying he was “happy to have a new school.”

Each of the 8 communities received a school with three classrooms, with a block of 3 latrines. It should be noted that all these classrooms were built in accordance with the recommendations of the ICI study on “Quality Education and Child Labour“.


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