by Jess Cropsey
Schools, parents, and students around the world are facing unprecedented challenges these days in regards to education. Burundi is no exception, although the challenges here are different. Since Covid numbers have been low, the government chose not to close its schools in March and opened as usual in September. Yet, teacher shortages, limited resources, and overcrowding are common struggles for schools here.
In Kibuye, the student population for our local school has grown 23% since 2016 and currently numbers over 1,500 students. For the last two years, there has not been enough classroom space for the kindergarten/pre-school class. Thanks to the generosity of donors in the U.S. and the amazing ingenuity and work of the Kibuye construction crew, this beautiful building was completed this week in just 3 months!
The building has three classrooms that will eventually be home for three levels of early education (Pre-K 3/4, 4/5, and kindergarten), options usually only available in larger cities. The building also has interior classroom dividers so that it can open into a large meeting space for community events, parent-teacher meetings, etc.
Wooden divider doors to separate the classrooms
Multiple classrooms being used for a meeting space
Matthieu, our outstanding architect/all-around construction guru on loan from EMI, did such a great job adding really unique touches to the building, making it a particularly striking sight for all the traffic that passes on their way to the hospital. Adults and kids alike have been mesmerized by the fun, bright colors. In Matt's words, "Our construction workers are happy with their work; they have received words of encouragement from passers-by and the community. Shadrack, one of our smart and hard-working workers together with other painters worked until 10PM the last few days. Their excitement, sense of ownership and dedication to this project and other projects here in Kibuye make me a happy architect and construction manager."
Although classes officially started yesterday, we had a nice opening ceremony today (which included sodas and speeches, of course) for the school administrators, teachers, construction workers, parents, and new students. We pray that this building will be a blessing for the community and a wonderful place for students as they begin their journey of learning.