Nong-Bzanga Junior High School
Bissiri, Burkina Faso
By Dada Padmeshananda
Starting a Secondary School
The Nong-Bzanga Junior High School located on the Ananda Viirat’a Master Unit, in Bissiri, Burkina Faso, opened in 2015. Nong-Bzanga, in local langage (Mooré), means “Love for all”. The school has three grades, 6th through 8th, 135 students, 7 teachers and 3 administrators.
Before we started Nong-Bzanga, there was a public primary school in the village, but there had been no accessibility to secondary education in the vicinity. Many children used to discontinue education after primary. There was a deeply felt need for secondary education and repeated requests came from the local community for the same. We were able to construct four classrooms in 2013 with AMURT Italy’s aid. We then started this junior high school.
We subsidize the school fees, uniforms, school books and noon meals, and give medical support to the students whenever necessary. A program of sponsorship for children in dire need has been arranged. It is a challenge to run a secondary school in such a remote area, yet the impact is huge and we want to do more – to double the capacity of the junior high school and then extend this program to senior high school.
A long term vision of this school is to offer the students, in addition to the general Burkinabe curriculum, an education which emphasizes the learning of human cardinal and environmental values through:
- sensitization programs in the spheres of hygiene, family planning, environment, morality, etc.
- self-development programs through drawings, yoga, sports, music, theatre, dance, etc.
- social and eco-friendly activities such as tree nursery and reforestation programs and cleaning of the village surroundings.
Recent good news:
Four classrooms under construction
Thanks to AMURT Italy, we found a partner ready to donate funds for building 4 new classrooms in order to double all the classes we have (so to have 2 classes for each grade of the junior high school) and give shelter to the growing number of students.
Sport ground under construction
In order to learn volley ball, hand ball and jumping, which will be items on the final exams at the completion of Junior High School, we are now (thanks to AMURT Italy) in the process of making a sport ground. We will then become one of the very rare schools in the region to have a sport ground. The interesting thing about it is that the students did the estimate of this project (with partnership of the Math teacher!) and now help the mason as he makes it happen. Another interesting thing is that it is quite alternative, local and economic: we are going to mix the local lateritic soil with 4% of cement to make the ground; in French we call this system “fondation en grave”.
As the very basic priorities of the school are now met (buildings, furniture, teachers, etc.), we endeavor to have one Neohumanist “touch” per week since February, so far here are the programs we have implemented:
- Drawing: team drawing with free themes. It was very touching, as many had never had the chance to draw before.
- 2 sensitizations about hygiene and ecology.
- Last week we had a music session; the English teacher had the children learn and understand the song “I love this tiny green island.” Later I came to explain about the spirit of the song, and we all sang along with the guitar.
- I am now working on wise quotes taken from diverse sources which we will write on calabashes (local gourds, used as a big plates when dried and polished) and display them at the school. We shall then talk about their meaning with the students. We are making the entrance of the school more welcoming with our logo and newly written “golden rules”
- Work has started on beautifying the place with more trees, bougainvillea, etc.
- Last but not the least, we have started our school’s tree nursery program for the learning of love and care of the trees and implementing reforestation in the surroundings, since this whole country is badly suffering from desertification.
Tree Nursery Program
Along with Rasa, the local in charge, we introduced a tree nursery program in the school, since Burkina Faso is badly suffering from desertification. The idea was to first sensitize in depth (several sessions will be included) the children about the environment, climate change and the need of caring for our mother earth so future generations may enjoy air, water and forests as we do. Note that everywhere, but even more in our remote area where people lack common information, proper communication is the key for the success of any program.
At the end of the first morning session we asked who wished to volunteer to be part of our school’s “green team” and learn to nurse, plant and care for trees. Most of them happily volunteered, and the work has already started.
Rasa learnt about agro-ecology from, among others, a great lover of trees, Mr Etienne, who accepted to come to our school and talk before the whole assembly. He will come regularly for follow-ups and teachings.
We will continue with these types of programs, the spirit being to work together for all-round (personal and collective) development. We wish that in the future children shall also get the opportunity to decide for themselves and organize different types of programs.
During the first session of sensitization (4 hours participative talk) the children were gathered in and out of the classroom, yet very enthusiastic in spite of extreme heat and lack of space. Finally we distributed some simple vegetarian meal. It was such a nice convivial atmosphere.