Many students at our secondary school struggle to access their right to education. Most students who enter the school in 6th grade do not complete 9th grade, and the dropout rate is even higher for girls. As a result, many youth face challenges reading and accessing job opportunities that will ensure them a brighter future. Despite their hard work, our students and staff are limited by the lack of resources at the school. Staff, parents, community members, and students identify the shortage of space as the chief priority. At least one class each year has to learn in a classroom that is effectively outdoors, consequently greatly increasing distractions to students, interrupting class any time there is inclement weather, and implicitly devaluing the students' education. Further, all administrative duties, disciplinary action, and teacher meetings are forced into a cramped, shared space no more than five yards across. This project would address these problems by building a new classroom and educational resource center. As a result, students would enjoy an enhanced learning environment and the school's staff would benefit from a more professional work space. These well-constructed buildings would help provide a quality education to students for years to come. Our community is proud and enthusiastic to contribute labor and skills to constructing these buildings and the betterment of their village.
The community has been the driving force of this project since its inception. Soon after the volunteer's arrival at site various community members independently began expressing interest in projects at the school. The volunteer and his community counterpart attended a training on effective project management and soon after held a meeting. The meeting was attended by the school's administration, the village chief, a representative of the students' association, a representative of the women's association, and several members of the parents' association. We discussed the needs of the community and considered various solutions in terms of acceptability, viability, cost, number of beneficiaries, and sustainability. We held several follow up meetings and decided on a classroom and offices as the focus of the project. My counterpart and the village chief have led the way in securing the community contribution and many people have been eager to contribute. Every stage of the process has been carried out with the volunteer's counterpart and the village chief, parents' association, and school administration have all been heavily involved and committed.
The community will have few difficulties sustaining the benefits of the project. Preparations have been made to ensure the buildings will be well-constructed with high-quality material and therefore will remain in good condition for many years to come, benefiting the students and staff in the long-term. Existing classrooms have needed very little maintenance and the same should be true of these buildings.