Bowaly’s new education centre: “The child’s place is in school and not on cocoa plantations”
Kouassi Yao Meza is 10 years old and attends Bowaly Public Primary School (Epp) in Central West Côte d’Ivoire. He’s in fifth grade and happy to have a new school. A school that he does not hesitate to show to his cousins who come to visit him in Bowaly, and he promises to work well in class, to later “help parents who are farmers and produce cocoa”. He smilingly confides to us that his dream is to become sub-prefect, while showing us around the old school, built in clay and now closed. Like him, many children in the community of Bowaly (Daloa) are happy about the new school building. Thanks to the collective support of Hershey, Cargill, the Cocoa Coffee Council, the International Cocoa Initiave and the Anitche Cooperative, children now have, instead of a small class serving as a school for all students, a school complex with modern facilities.
It consists of 7 classrooms, including a kindergarten classroom, a playground for kindergarten children, 7 teachers’ housing units, a school canteen, a toilet block, a water tower with pumps and two solar panels of 250 Watts each, or 500 watts. This is to allow children to study easily and fearlessly after dark.
As the headmaster, Mr Soro Lanzeni, pointed out when he symbolically handed over the keys to the school, it was not his school but “the school of all”, parents, children, state structures, development partners. That is why he called for effective management of this education centre because, as the representative of Hershey, Mr Kodjia Kouadio Félix, pointed out, “the best work you can expect from a child is school work”. An idea shared by the representative of Cargill West Africa, Mrs Blandine Konan, Sustainability Manager, who stated that the construction of this school is “the collective effort of the whole community”.
Recalling the memorandum of understanding signed between Cargill and the International Cocoa Initiative for the construction of social and economic infrastructure in Bowaly, ICI’s Deputy Country Director outlined the genesis of the construction of this school. A school that caters to the needs of the community, as they were assessed by ICI during the first contacts with the organisation. Bowaly’s new school shall “remind producers that the child’s place is in school and not on cocoa plantations”. He also added that “everything is ready so that children can go to school properly”. He congratulated the cooperative for the outstanding work it had done. He also thanked Hershey’s and the Cocoa Coffee Council for the funding and Cargill for the trust placed in ICI for the construction of the school complex.