Painting Lessons on a Primary School Wall

By Michael Chiaro
April 7, 2017
Local children walk across bricks made for the construction of the wall .jpg
Local children walks across the construction bricks that will be used for the school wall. Photo by Michael

When Michael moved into his village located in the region of Kaffrine, he knew that he wanted to pursue work that improved the lives of the local children. He noted the social pressure from the community for the males to stop learning and work in the fields full time. Likewise, young women often drop out to work in both the home and the fields, and marry early. The only way for a child to interrupt this cycle is to perform well in school and continue climbing the Senegalese education ladder. 

Unfortunately, this is very rare in Michael’s community and only a few children each year go on to collège, the Senegalese equivalent of middle school. As more and more children continue in their schooling, the community’s education level will increase. With an increase in education, one could expect incomes and standards of living to follow suit. The school in this volunteer’s village is very fortunate because they have motivated faculty, but greatly lack resources and infrastructure. 

The head mason, Mortalla Diop, constructing the wall.jpg
The head mason, Mortalla Diop, laying brick for the wall. Photo by Michael
Digging the foundation.jpg
Digging the foundation. Photo by Michael

A year into his service, Michael was approached by the headmaster of the primary school, the village chief, and the president of the parent-teacher organization about plans for the development of the school. They proposed a four-point plan consisting of (1) school wall, (2) school garden, (3) solar power for the school, and (4) implementation of technology into the classroom. 

The headmaster of the school, Momath Sy, instructs students on the importanc eof handwashing.jpg
The headmaster of the school, Momath Sy, instructs students on the importance of hand washing. Photo by Michael

After much conversation, they decided that the most realistic of the steps to undertake would be the school wall. With the help of local counterparts, Michael organized, applied for, and secured funding from World Connect to build a 170-meter-long, 2-meter-high wall to surround the school. This wall would greatly decrease the amount of distractions the students face in a day, improve the safety and cleanliness of the school grounds, and make it a more pleasurable place to learn. With the help of dedicated teachers, these outcomes would aid in the promotion of education within the community. Along with the construction of the wall, Michael painted educational murals focusing on health and the school’s curriculum on the wall to act as visual aids for lessons. 

Construction began after rainy season last September and was completed in December. Additionally, Michael, other Peace Corps Volunteers, and community members painted 30 murals. In early March, a metal handwashing station and educational mural on hygiene were added. This served as a guide for teacher-led health talks. Various shade and fruit trees will be planted at the onset of the next rainy season. They will enhance the learning experience and provide a leisurely escape for students on break.  

The wall before metal rebar supports  and the facade was added .jpg
The wall before the metal rebar supports and facade was added. Photo by Michael

Interest in the project continues to expand within and beyond Michael’s community. Education inspectors, government officials, and leaders in the surrounding villages have made the trip out to Michael’s site to observe the great work done. The effect generated by this project will be felt for many years to come and contribute to the education of this rural community.  

Entrance of the school.jpg
Entrance of the school. Photo by Michael
Badara Drame instructs the children on the importance of handwashing.jpg
Badara Drame instructs the children on the importance of hand washing. Photo by Michael
Nutrition mural located on the inside of the wall.jpg
Nutrition mural located on the inside of the wall. Photo by Michael
The finished wall before murals were painted .jpg
The finished wall before murals were painted. Photo by Michael
Students, teachers and PCV Michael.jpg
Students, Teachers, and a Peace Corps Volunteer. Photo by Michael
VIew of the wall from the inside of the school.jpg
View of the wall from the inside of the school. Photo by Michael

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