Time for Masks !
Dear Friends and Donors,
We are happy to announce to you that every single one of our students at Hampaté Bâ Secondary School is happy and healthy and back in school as of June 1st, this time with masks on ! So this is fantastic and reassuring news!
The challenges have been great, and still continue to be consequential, but the students are very resilient and determined to succeed in spite of the numerous challenges.
CHALLENGE # 1 : NO REVISIONS OR REMOTE LEARNING DURING LOCKDOWN
Schools at all levels in Niger closed on March 20th and remained closed up until June 1st. During this period of almost 2 ½ months, the students benefitted from NO remote learning nor tutoring, so that virtually meant a
2 ½ month period where no classes were given and no academic re-enforcement took place. To correct this situation, the government intended to put in place a remote learning program by WhatsApp, but were not able to achieve that objective finally with their professors. Moreover, even if they had succeeded in implementing that program, a majority of the students in Niger do not have mobile phones or enough money to purchase minutes in order to follow classes on-line. Not to mention the disadvantage for some of our scholarship students, who are terribly underprivileged and do not even have electricity. So mission impossible.
CHALLENGE #2 : ONLY 1 ½ MONTHS TO CATCH UP ON 2 ½ MONTHS ABSENCE
As the Minister of Education in Niger concluded , in agreement with the Council of Ministers, that they didn’t want to lose an academic year, they took the decision to continue secondary school classes between June 1st and July 15th. And yet only 50% of the program had been completed before shut-down on March 20th. This means the students have to catch up and complete the total program, therefore having the last 50% of the program to finish in only 45 days with extended time in the afternoon. A big challenge for sure !
CHALLENGE # 3 : SOCIAL DISTANCING AND HYGIENE DURING LOCKDOWN
Of course in Niger, just like in most countries in the world, the golden rules during the coronavirus crisis included social distancing, hand washing, and wearing masks. The problem being that social distancing in Niger is very difficult to carry out. Large families living in small spaces cannot social distance. Not to mention the impossibility of carrying out certain sanitary rules and basic hygiene, when they eat in the same plates and drink out of the same cups. Niger’s traditions for marriages and baptisms and grouping together make matters even worse. In spite of these difficulties and rules not always respected, Niger’s figures were not catastrophic, and perhaps all the cases were not reported. The official figures as of June 10th are : 974 positive cases and 65 deaths.
CHALLENGE # 4 : THE HOTTEST, WETTEST & SANDIEST MONTHS OF THE YEAR
In any tourist brochure for Niger, you will see that it is highly advised NOT to go to Niger from March through May because of the high temperatures. This is the hot season which is sweltering and temperatures can easily exceed 40 degrees centigrade. Sandstorms do occur and this year they have been especially numerous and colorful, as is seen in our photos. From June through September, it is the rainy season, making the air heavy and humid. which isn’t any easier. It is hot, oppressive and mostly cloudy. So to go to school, when the weather is so hot that you can’t think (especially without air conditioning) or when the rain is so abundant that water floods the roads, is not exactly easy and definitely affects one’s energy and motivation, making studying a grueling task. Instead of ending school beginning June with exams in June/July, students must now brave Niger’s worst seasons, with school ending mid-July and exams in mid August..
RESILIENCE AND DETERMINATION WITH A SMILE
In spite of having only a few months ahead of them to revise and to successfully complete the unfinished program during the worst seasons of the year, the Hampaté Bâ students have decided to make the most of the situation and work with devotion and determination. They have reasoned that they have no choice, and since they want to succeed their BEPC and BAC exams, they have been making the most of their time. The Exam classes are 9th grade students in Middle school and 12th grade students in High School. Each morning they attend their regular classes in all subjects. In the afternoon they have supplementary classes to catch them up on the last 50% of the program that they haven’t learned yet in the most essential subjects. In addition, our Association is working with those low-income students who are struggling the most, and giving them very necessary coaching in smaller groups. This makes for a day from 8 am right through to 6 pm and after that they have a nice walk home , ranging between ½ hr and 1 hour. And this is done with no complaints. Only with a smile and with gratitude. Because in Niger, education is such a gift, that it is prized by students whose families could not afford to put their children in school. These students actually WANT to have an education and they treasure the opportunity we are giving them to follow studies that could lead them to professional training or to higher studies.
A SURGE OF ENERGY AND CLEVER IDEAS
The students have actually approached all the challenges of COVID19 with a positive attitude and clever ideas. Some have turned to the computer resources at the Hampaté Bâ School to improve their reading and writing capacities. Others have used the computers to improve their mathematical skills and more sophisticated programming tools. Still others have invented machines to distribute soap so as to put hygiene habits into practice daily. So the crisis has instigated new ideas and a flow of energy to move forward and be innovative with original new ways of doing things. Bravo to these brave students !
THERE IS HOPE, WITH YOUR HELP
We wish all these students luck in facing a very difficult challenge during these terrible times and are behind them to support their great efforts and to encourage them. We are very thankful for any and all donations you can contribute to help students succeed, reach their potential, and break the poverty cycle. They need you to help them out, by supporting a student scholarship, teacher training, or specialized tutoring, to give the most disadvantaged, struggling students a better chance.
Our students have not given up. They are still hopeful. With your donations, we can make their hope become a reality and their dreams come true. Thank you.
Back to Computers for Math Exercises
Concentrating on Writing layout
Frequent sand storms
Hand made water dispenser
Soap and water for hygiene
Disinfection before classes start