New School building right, first one to the left
The inauguration of our second school building June 2019 is exciting news and a major milestone for Zahana in many aspects. Watch the cutural dance performance of the inaguaration on our YouTube channel.
Looking back or context: Our first school was built by the community in 2006, right after they built their clean water system.*
We are honored the inauguration was attended by the education director of the Bongolava Region. (Madagascar is divided into 22 regions (faritra). A region can very loosely be equated an administrating unit, like a state, but without a governor. The capital of the 4th largest region is Tsiroanomandidy with an estimated population of over half a million. He is the highest ranking official for education in Bongolava. His presence to attend personally at this event is quite symbolic. Other dignitaries were the Medical Inspector for the Region and members of the ministries of health and local authorities.
Second aspect: Our second school building in 2019 was constructed and paid for by a French NGO. The founder Abel Legendre of the Association Pour que Vive Maroala attended the inauguration (with the white hat). Zahana was charged with buying the furniture and school supplies in addition to paying our teachers. We are very pleased at this collaboration and synergy that Zahana makes possible. This is the first major contribution by another donor for education, one of our core pillars of Zahana’s development philosophy. The same NGO also generously built the CARMMA, our maternal health focused health center in Fiadanana in 2014. The community got a beautiful, brand new second school building, without too much impact on our Zahana budget.
Aspect 3: This is more than a school.
This is the rural university we had always envisioned. Zahana has great plans for this school. It is designed to become a focal point for community wide education, including agriculture know-how transfer. The intention is to go beyond the scope of our current primary school(s) educational focus. “It is a school for all people living in the region,” our founder Dr. Ihanta explains. “It will provide an extensive curriculum that goes beyond traditional primary school education. Once the primary school in the morning is finished, the younger students can attend other classes oriented on their local needs, to improve their lives, when they become adult community members. Learning the ABC or math will be complemented by ‘real life skills’. We want to further involve and encourage adults to come, many of whom might have never attended a formal school before. As well as members of neighboring communities, widening the scope of our outreach exponentially. We are currently developing the new curriculum, and our rural university will officially ‘start’ in August.”
We are envisioning classes on agricultural improvements, by taking advantage of existing resources, but applying new innovative techniques (SRI comes to mind as a possibility), that lead to better yields or introduces new, diversified crops beyond rice and corn (maize). Reforestation and hands on building of improved cook stoves will also be part of our curriculum. Health, and especially maternal health and nutrition classes, will be offered. This new exciting challenge is very much an evolving process with a flexible curriculum that grows, changes and adapts, based on the community needs and the seasons.
Stay tuned for the new exciting developments in the coming months and years.
Ihanta, Jeannette and Markus
Students performing for the ceremony
Dignitaries attending the opening
Traditional dance group performing
Regional education director cutting the ribbon
Visitors discussing the future of the school
Education director, builder and funder of school