*(The school shown above is representative of what the school in Madagascar could look like, and is not the actual school that Paul is involved with).
In recent interviews we’ve spoken to Paul about his dream of building a school in a third world country, and Paul has just confirmed that the project has got the green light, and is due to commence in May/ June of 2020.
Paul has decided to begin his school building project in Madagascar because Madagascar is one of the world’s poorest countries, and because of the high-quality infrastructure that the Northern Ireland Adsum Charity Foundation has in the region, so that Paul knows that the project will be delivered on time, on budget and that it will be fit for purpose, that is to assist in facilitating the education and development of young children who may not enjoy all of the privileges or advantages enjoyed by many of us growing up in the west.
The construction of the school is expected to take six to ten months, and we look forward to updating this site soon with further details.
The Case For Building More Schools In Madagascar
Education is of great importance to any country, but especially so in developing or so-called third world countries as a lack of education causes slow economic growth and poverty. Education provides the opportunity for development including better employment opportunities and as well as improved health. It is important to understand that education and development go hand in hand. Despite great progress over the past few years, many children are still denied the right to basic education. Education is a primary need of every person and every child should have the right to quality education to improve their chances in life.
The Education Crisis in Madagascar
The issues of education in Madagascar are particularly based on gender, cost of living, and the national schooling programme. In 2013 Madagascar was reported to be the poorest country by the World Bank. Apart from the socio-political crisis, lack of education is one of the main reasons as it has been proven that good education boosts economic growth. Without schools and state-aided education system quality education is not possible.
The high financial costs of schooling in most developing countries make education less affordable for the poor, who are the most cost-sensitive. On the other hand, material resources and infrastructures are defective or completely absent in these areas. Without schools with classroom resources and good textbooks, it is impossible to provide even basic education. In many communities, the benefits of education may not be well understood and therefore a low priority, particularly in the case of girls.
As is the case in many third world countries around the world, women are expected to become a wife and mother and in the meantime, they help their mothers in subsistence agriculture. These activities are not compatible with schooling as they keep girls busy for long hours every day. Because they don’t spend enough time in school, girls typically leave primary or secondary school without graduating.
Every year the price of schooling also increases and families do not have enough money to send their children to school. In Madagascar, there was financial aid for public schools from the state. The Malagasy Ministry of Education contributed Ar 3000 per pupil per school year, however, this aid called ‘The School Chest’ decreased to Ar 800 and, in some rural regions, it doesn’t even exist. It seems that the school syllabus is neither appropriate to the needs of students and citizens nor to the needs of the country. There are no programmes for counseling or guidance which results in many students who obtain their degrees not knowing what to do, which keeps them inactive. This situation is due in part to the inappropriate use of programmes which have always been based on programmes inherited from the French colonization. Young children should be educated about the benefits of education, not only for themselves and their families but for the larger good of their country. If the demand for education increases the government may be obliged to improve the situation by building more schools and granting more aid for the education of their citizens.
What can be done
In 1995 Madagascar signed the MDG agreement with goal number 2 stating “education for all”. This means that leaders will have to sanction sexual discrimination in the education system and consider girls as having the same rights as boys to being educated. Instead of providing most of the educational opportunities to boys it is important to change the national schooling programme to include a more productive and realistic system.
When it comes to school facilities, in the case of chemistry, a laboratory is needed and not just course theory. As more than 80% of Malagasy people are farmers, practical courses related to farming, history, and traditional culture needs to be more practical in real-life education. The consequences of negligence in these areas are clearly seen in the economic and political crises present in Madagascar at present.
Making education more of a priority for girls will bring social benefits that will improve the lives of the poor. This includes improved health care for children, lower fertility, and greater participation in the labour market. The more educated people are the more likely they are to make informed choices and to create new job opportunities that generate economic incomes.
At present, the current education system in Madagascar provides primary schooling from the age of 6 to 11. Secondary education is divided into 2 parts – the junior secondary level lasts 4 years from the ages of 12 to 15 years and senior secondary level that lasts for 3 years from the ages of 16 to 18.
School Building Projects in Madagascar
A quarter of all Malagasy children are out of school. In the more remote areas of the country, the figure is much higher where there are no school buildings or if there are they are highly unsuitable. Yet, education is hugely important to the Malagasy people. Children dream of going to school and parents often make huge sacrifices to make it possible for their children to be educated. In some cohesive communities parents partake in superhuman efforts to build or repair their schools and pay teacher’s salaries.
There are many organisations involved in helping to build schools for the poor all over the world, including Madagascar. Often these organisations kickstart the building of schools by providing the planning, permissions, materials, and technical back-up needed, while the community provides the labour.
For example, an organisation called Feedback Madagascar has built 77 primary schools in a 200-mile stretch along the forest corridor and has built schools in remote areas where other organisations never dare to venture. They are also involved in building youth centres, libraries and training centres for adult literacy programmes and courses. Students who excel at primary school but cannot afford to go on to secondary school are offered scholarships. This provides support for students through the next stages of their studies where they would otherwise have left school without achieving their full potential.
While it is true that every child needs education, it is equally true that without schools there will be no opportunity to obtain such education.