“Getting a CEPE is a very big deal for everybody. Nobody in their village ever got a CEPE so far”, our friend Dr. Ihanta told us on Skype. “Eight of our students from our Fiadanana school took the exam. They had been preparing for weeks every day with their teacher. Seven of our Students passed the exam, while from other village schools only 30% to 50% of the students did so well.”
In Madagascar a CEPE is a Certificat d'etudes primaires élémentaires (or Certificate of Primary Studies). A nation-wide standardized test, it can be awarded after attending five years of primary education. Students that don't pass either leave school without a CEPE or may try again after repeating the year in school.
Zahana’s school in Fiadanana is now 5 years old and these are our first students who qualified to take the CEPE. Established as private schools, Zahana has more educational freedom in choosing a culturally appropriate curriculum, but our children do qualify to take an external exam for the CEPE. Successfully passing the CEPE exam is a prerequisite to enroll in secondary education.
In Madagascar the CEPE - a milestone in a child’s life. It is a family affair and is at least as important as getting a high school diploma in the USA. Parents and grandparents accompany their children, who can range from 8 to 16 years of age, to the exam, often far away from home. They buy them a special auspicious lunch (something village children never get) and wait outside rooting for them the entire time. If they pass, they get gifts and in villages their diploma often gets framed, with glass, and hung in a prominent spot in the home.
Our students had to walk for two hours with their families to Bevato, the district’s administrative center and sit in a strange new building they had never been in before. While you might wonder why a bottle of Coke is proudly held up like a trophy, this is most likely their only soda this year and something very special.
If you count the bottles in the photos, you can see bottles: five of the children and their teacher to the left (who got the same rewards too).
We are happy and proud to announce that for August 2011 Zahana is featured in the ‘Project of the Month Club’ at GlobalGiving.
Every month GlobalGiving awards this designation to a new exceptionally high performing project. For the entire month of August this very project takes the spotlight on the GlobalGiving website. We are thankful to GlobalGiving for this great opportunity to reach a wider audience of dedicated donors for Zahana and promoting solar cooking and solar water pasteurization.
Please check it out and let all your friends know.
Our wonderful solar volunteer Bruce is back in Madagascar. He has recently left the capital city of Antananarivo for our villages. Based on his experiences visiting and living in our two villages in 2010, Bruce has been looking into the best way to improve cooking and cook stoves in Madagascar. He has found an appropriate model that wants to build and test it together with the villagers. Last year he also introduced a low-tech, inexpensive solar cooker (see photo). He used materials available in the city to built this panel cooker. It will be interesting to see if it has been used and how well it worked or how long it lasted.
After a few weeks in the countryside he plans to visit other NGOs in Madagascar and share his expertise from hands on experience in Madagascar. One organization, based far away in another part of the country, has been working with solar cookers for many years and was building a solar box cooker model locally. We plan to buy a few of these Malagasy made solar cookers and have Bruce personally introduce them in the villages, to see if a "domestic" version is the way to go.
Stay tuned for pictures and updates as soon as they become available.
This is an update though photos: our students use the solar water pasteurizer, donated by Developing World Solar in Hawaii, to make their drinking water safe. All they need to do is to put the water bottles in the sun and wait. (See website for technical details). Once the solar pasteurized water has cooled down enough, the students can quench their thirst safely.
Solar water pasteurization is at the moment the only reliable way to get safe drinking water in the school. The village’s only a ground well with water all year round is in the schoolyard in Fiarenana. Most other wells run dry in the rainless months. As with many ground wells in developing countries, water safety for drinking water is an issue and we are very happy to see that the students have adopted this innovative, novel idea, making good use of the solar water pasteurizers.
We could not have done it without your support! The temptation was big to just send a progress report with two words: “Thank you”. But, we wanted to explain it a bit more:
February 2011 Zahana was awarded “Superstar” status, the highest level an organization can reach on GlobalGiving! Regular progress report by our amazing Malagasy team, combined with your donor support got us among the 30 superstars, a brand new program launched at GlobalGiving.
Last but not least: March 16 - Bonus Day at GlobalGiving. On March 16, 2011 GlobalGiving is matching at 30% all online donations (up to US$1,000 per donor per project) with $75,000 available in matching funds. The last time matching funds were depleted half way into the Bonus Day, so be ready midnight EST on March 16 if you would like to top off your generous donation to Zahana.
Ihanta, Jeannette and Markus
P.S. Zahana did not get chosen for the Ford Focus test drive in February 2011.
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