On the remote Plateau of South Kivu, parents are building their children’s schools themselves. We’re helping them.
The Plateau region of South Kivu is off the grid, off the map and certainly off the beaten track. Kinshasa, the country’s capital is about 950 km/590 miles away. There isn’t really a road network to speak of, you soon learn to walk far and fast growing up on the Plateau.
Government support doesn’t seem to make its way up the steep slopes and so communities have had to learn to do things for themselves – including building their children’s schools and paying the teachers’ wages. What these parents achieve is humbling, but when we join forces we do even greater things together – we make schools climb mountains.
The main problems with the Plateau’s existing community-built classrooms is that they don’t last and don’t have proper furniture. Traditional building techniques work perfectly well for homes, but schools can’t have the almost constant domestic fires necessary to keep the wattle & daub walls dry and hard. Walls soon start crumbling, bamboo benches fall apart and holes appear in the roof.
But the real problems arrive with the wet season. Heavy rains fall on the Plateau and it gets cold, you don’t want to be in these classrooms in these conditions.
We work with an excellent Congolese organisation – Eben Ezer Ministry International (EMI) and in partnership with dedicated parents, we build new, durable schools.
It would take many pages to list all of the ways in which these new schools are an improvement. But to list a few; durable brick walls that last, thick metal roofing sheets that keep children dry, desks & benches (made by carpenters on-site), windows (which, in the absence of electricity let natural light illuminate classrooms), water tanks (to harvest rain water and enable children to wash their hands after going to the toilet), toilet blocks (separate for boys and girls – meaning that girls no longer have to stay at home when they have their period), six separate classrooms (meaning that children can receive lessons suited to their age and development)…
When the school is built it’s the community’s, to own and run. At the heart of every school opening ceremony is the handing over of deeds. The fact that parents have played such a big part in building the school ensures that they truly feel ownership and will manage and maintain the school for years to come.
But we don’t hand over the keys and just leave. We want to make sure that the school is used and maintained. We help the community do this by building their capacity to mobilise, co-operate and earn. Learn more below.