In 2005, the Community Nursery School was built. Currently, it serves four villages in an attempt to bring early childhood education to its community. Its primary objective was to improve the quality of education local children received prior to entering primary school. After completing nursery school, the pupils within the community currently live outside a walkable range to attend the government school where they must go to continue their education. For many, this means choosing to walk upwards of seven kilometers one way to attend school, starting school at a later age, or simple never attending school. The objective of the project is to construct a one-by-three classroom block by June 2020. This new school block will be located within 3 km of the many pupils who now travel the 7 km to school. The objective and potential impact of the construction and revitalization of the community school is to increase the number of pupils enrolled in primary school, increase the pass-rate of students, and increase the number of schools in the community. Thus, mitigating the overcrowding in current schools, the distance these pupils have to travel to get to school, and increasing the quality of education in the zone. The community has contributed land for the school, bricks, labor, and other building material for the construction of the school. The activities involved in this project include community mobilization and buy-in, formation of a committee tasked to oversee construction, community involvement, maintenance of the proposed community school, and making of building materials for said school. In addition, volunteer teachers from the community have received training from a local NGO, PLAN, to become certified caregivers to staff the school.
The community has driven the project from the beginning. They worked with the previous volunteer to start the mobilization of the construction and have increased community buy-in and their involvement in the project with me as the current adviser. They have spear headed meetings with government officials, traditional and local leaders, and the community members to discuss construction, community donations, and the creation of an action plan for the project. Both the chief, DEBs, and zonal school, have given their approval for the community to continue to work towards the expansion of the nursery school to a lower primary school. The community has worked to crowd source some of the materials needed for building (bricks, river sand, and other necessary materials), transport money for meetings, and have donated personal time, land, and money to the project. They have designed the proposed school block, created a reserved place for the school grounds for future development, dug the foundations for the one-by-three block, and continue to work together to create a program of community support designed to ensure that the school is maintained and funded after construction complete.
The community plans to ensure sustainability by utilizing the formed committee as a sustainability and maintenance committee. The committee is developing plans to have the pupils contribute school fees to upkeep of school, payment of teachers, and for purchase of school supplies. The community has also received praise by the local Chief and has arranged a day to have him come to the site of construction to encourage the community in their efforts. The teachers who have been certified by PLAN will staff the school along with a trained teacher who is from the area and has committed to teaching at the school. During the construction of the building and committee/community meetings, the NHC (Neighborhood Health Club) has committed to coming to these meetings and sensitizing the community on HIV, Malaria, and Hygienic practices. These short presentations by the NHC will add value to the meetings that will hopefully improve the community’s health practices.