Juliana is the first girl in her family to be able to attend school. At age 11, she is in CM2 (fifth grade). Each morning and evening, she travels four kilometers on foot to get to school and return home. She is motivated and loves learning. She wants to become a teacher.
New classrooms to accommodate more students
Her school, located in Mamakoffikro village in Gagnoa Department in Côte d’Ivoire, received funding from the Ivoirien government to construct new buildings with six new classrooms from CP1 to CM2 (first to fifth grade). The entire local community pitched in to build the classrooms, thus making the families in nearby villages very hopeful, as they will now be able to send their children to this school.
Juliana’s parents, who are cocoa producers, were also involved in the building of the school. They provided water or prepared meals for the workers at the work site. In Côte d’Ivoire, this is known as the “community approach”—the direct involvement of local communities in education projects. Even though Juliana’s parents did not have the opportunity to attend school themselves, they are well aware that the academic success of their children will play a role in the economic success of their village.
A country striving for education for all
Côte d’Ivoire has been experiencing a veritable surge of interest in education since the establishment of mandatory schooling for all children between the ages of 6 and 16 in September 2015. The government’s budget allocation to this new initiative rose from CFAF 600 billion in 2015 to CFAF 750 billion in 2016 (from US$1 billion to US$1.25 billion), in order to meet needs in infrastructure, teaching staff, and classroom facilities.
Awareness campaigns were conducted in urban and rural areas to enable each child to have access to a school located as close as possible to his or her home. To this end, 15,000 primary school classrooms and 170 junior high schools were constructed and 38,000 teachers were recruited between 2011 and 2015.
This is a godsend for young girls in Côte d’Ivoire. Indeed, families are reluctant to send them to school when schools are far from their villages; not only for safety reasons but also because girls are a big help to their parents in the family home, particularly during the harvest season when most families earn a living.
Concrete progress as a result of GPE financial support
Côte d'Ivoire received US$41.4 million from the Global Partnership for Education to help improve access to a quality basic education. This financing made it possible to build 470 primary level classrooms, seven local junior high schools, and two training centers (Centres d’Animation et de Formation Pédagogique - CAFOP). The grant also enabled to purchase and distribute one million textbooks and to integrate an additional 15,253 trained teachers into the primary school system.
This financing and assistance from the Global Partnership facilitated the establishment of an education system that strives to be high-performing and to become a model for other African countries.
There are still many classrooms to be constructed throughout the country and demand among the Ivoirien population is high as demographic growth explodes. However, the enthusiasm created by the hope in schooling is a nation-wide phenomenon and, in this regard, Côte d’Ivoire is seeking to become a model of inclusive education in the future.