Sometimes the most obvious change has the largest impact. In 2009 solar panels were donated, and the school had electricity for lights in the classrooms. The impact was spectacular! They could hold classes on rainy days when it becomes very dark as well as at night. Students do not have electricity at home so they could stay at the school to study in the evening. The solar panels are now broken, and the school is once again in the dark. It is stunning to see how it negatively impacted the students’ results at the Baccalauréat exam.
In the back of the school, there is a hole in the ground. This is the restroom for 1,400 students and staff at the Koumra School! This unsafe and unhygienic situation needs to be addressed right away.
Picture a class with 70 bright-eyed students looking at and listening to their teacher. That’s right, 70. That is the class size at the Koumra School. And those students sit four or five to a bench. Not only the large class size makes learning very difficult, but because of that, the school cannot accept all kids every year, they have to refuse some of the applications.
We have sent many boxes of old textbooks but the Chadian Ministry of Education provides a list of specific textbooks and schools are required to use them. Imagine never owning a book! Imagine learning history or math without your own textbook! But that is what the students face at the Koumra School. There is only one textbook for each class. Every day the teachers must write down the information from the book onto the blackboard. The students then spend precious class time copying that text into their notebooks.
The Koumra School attracts students from all over the region. Many students come from remote villages and walk up to 10 km to go to the school. That means that some leave home at 4 a.m. to reach the school at 7:30 a.m.!
Because of limited circumstances for their families, the majority of the students do not get three meals a day. There may be something at home in the morning and an evening meal, but nothing to take to school for lunch.