Originally posted on Monday, June 10, 2013
The Coptic Preparatory School for Boys, one of the oldest public schools in the Al Minya Governorate in Upper Egypt, has fallen into a state of disrepair. In part of the building, crumbling walls at risk of collapse forced the administration to move the 490 students into just nine classrooms, lined with broken desks and chipping paint.
The classrooms at the Coptic Preparatory School for Boys had broken desks and chipping paint.
“The school is in very bad shape… We don’t have a useable sports field for exercise or proper classroom facilities that are necessary for our education,” said an eighth grader named Khaled. He described how the students would go all day without using the restrooms because they were unmaintained and extremely unhygienic.
In late 2012, thirty-three students at the school participated in Internews’ Future Leaders program, a series of trainings that teaches young people between the ages of 13 and 15 about civic responsibility and citizenship. Students learn how to identify and solve community problems and produce short documentary films, radio programs, or social media campaigns to call attention to the issues.
As soon as the training began, the students knew what problem they would address: their school. But most were skeptical that they would be able to change anything.
After action taken by the students, the classrooms were repaired and painted.
With guidance from their Future Leaders trainers, the students focused on the problems that had realistic solutions. They scheduled a meeting with the school administrator where they presented the issues, suggested some approaches, and requested assistance in fixing up the school. The students were excited to learn that the school administrator consulted with the Undersecretary of Education in Al Minya, who pledged to look into the school’s problems himself.
Soon after, officials at the Ministry of Education and the administrator at the School Maintenance Association met with the students. Moved by their enthusiasm, the Undersecretary of Education decided to form a committee under the auspices of the Ministry of Education to visit the school and help solve the problem.
The school’s Board of Trustees called a meeting with the newly formed committee and the group of students, where they presented the school with a 15,000 Egyptian pound ($2,100 USD) allocation towards maintaining the building, which included painting the classrooms, repairing furniture, and fixing the bathrooms. The School Maintenance Association also launched an initiative to create a sports field for the students to use, which allowed the school to add a formal physical education class.
A newly refinished classroom at the school.
After their successful campaign, the students were invigorated by being able to create actual change in their community. The concluded theirFuture Leaders training with the production of a four-minute documentary film detailing the problems with their school and how they solved them. They then proudly presented the film, “Our Revitalized School,” to the public.
Internews’ Future Leaders program in Egypt is funded by USAID and support from donors like you. Thank you for your contributions to this campaign!