MAP ALCHEMY BLOG

Canvas to Cinderblocks: Building our Sixth School in Senegal

Canvas to Cinderblocks:
Building our Sixth School in Senegal

By Larson Holt, MAP Senegal Program Director
June 9, 2020

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In spite of coronavirus, MAP started construction on its sixth school in Senegal, in partnership with our local partners at Natangué-Sénégal. While the pandemic has closed down schools, the slow spread of the outbreak allows important construction work to continue provided adequate health and safety measures are in place. This will allow us to open the school up earlier than expected this fall.

The demand for schools in Senegal is incredibly high, particularly in the city of Mbour, which has grown from 80,000 people in 1999 to 800,000 people in 2019. Many families have come to the city from rural areas in search of better job opportunities, bringing tens of thousands more children into an already-strained school system. The government doesn’t have the resources to build enough schools to support this growing population.

Many of young children in Senegal start attending school in temporary structures made of straw and canvas set up by schools who can do little else to provide for their students. These are called abri provisoire, which literally means “temporary shelter”.

These shelters have no toilets, no offices for teachers, no electricity, and frequently flood during the fall rainy season, closing down schools and forcing them to reconstruct, wasting precious time that could be spent on instruction. This clearly demands a more permanent solution, and MAP has been working to build high-quality school buildings which can be used throughout the year, rain or shine. To date, more than half of the students attending a MAP school in Senegal came from an abri provisoire and now enjoy learning in a fully built school.

Our sixth school will be located in the Diamaguène district of the city of Mbour. Currently, a preschool and elementary school are located on the site, and MAP’s investment will build a second elementary school that will educate approximately 500 children in grades 1-5. This will replace numerous abri provisoires that have been built in this area.

Families in this area generally have lower incomes than the rest of Mbour and have lower access to jobs, healthcare, and other resources. This district is significantly underserved, as it is a new extension of the city to the east where many recent migrants have moved. Their stories are complex, often having traveled from faraway parts of the country, forced to leave agricultural livelihoods behind in exchange for uncertain economic opportunity in Mbour. Through MAP’s programs in Senegal, we will help them build sustainable communities through education, health and hunger relief—and as the world hunkers down to stop the spread of coronavirus, opening our sixth school in the fall is a very welcome light at the end of the tunnel.

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One of the current canvas and straw classrooms on the site of the Diamaguène School, where MAP is starting construction on a new six-classroom building.
Progress is building on the sixth MAP school in Senegal.
The “abri provisioire” classrooms are a temporary fix built by the local education authorities to provide schooling until formal classrooms can be built.
The construction also includes an office for the
administration and the faculty of the school.
Young children in the Diamaguène district will be able to attend the brand-new Diamaguène school starting in the fall.
One of the current canvas and straw classrooms on the site of the Diamaguène School, where MAP is starting construction on a new six-classroom building.

In spite of coronavirus, MAP started construction on its sixth school in Senegal, in partnership with our local partners at Natangué-Sénégal. While the pandemic has closed down schools, the slow spread of the outbreak allows important construction work to continue provided adequate health and safety measures are in place. This will allow us to open the school up earlier than expected this fall.

Progress is building on the sixth MAP school in Senegal.

The demand for schools in Senegal is incredibly high, particularly in the city of Mbour, which has grown from 80,000 people in 1999 to 800,000 people in 2019. Many families have come to the city from rural areas in search of better job opportunities, bringing tens of thousands more children into an already-strained school system. The government doesn’t have the resources to build enough schools to support this growing population.

Many of young children in Senegal start attending school in temporary structures made of straw and canvas set up by schools who can do little else to provide for their students. These are called abri provisoire, which literally means “temporary shelter”.

The “abri provisioire” classrooms are a temporary fix built by the local education authorities to provide schooling until formal classrooms can be built.

These shelters have no toilets, no offices for teachers, no electricity, and frequently flood during the fall rainy season, closing down schools and forcing them to reconstruct, wasting precious time that could be spent on instruction. This clearly demands a more permanent solution, and MAP has been working to build high-quality school buildings which can be used throughout the year, rain or shine. To date, more than half of the students attending a MAP school in Senegal came from an abri provisoire and now enjoy learning in a fully built school.

The construction also includes an office for the
administration and the faculty of the school.

Our sixth school will be located in the Diamaguène district of the city of Mbour. Currently, a preschool and elementary school are located on the site, and MAP’s investment will build a second elementary school that will educate approximately 500 children in grades 1-5. This will replace numerous abri provisoires that have been built in this area.

Young children in the Diamaguène district will be able to attend the brand-new Diamaguène school starting in the fall.

Families in this area generally have lower incomes than the rest of Mbour and have lower access to jobs, healthcare, and other resources. This district is significantly underserved, as it is a new extension of the city to the east where many recent migrants have moved. Their stories are complex, often having traveled from faraway parts of the country, forced to leave agricultural livelihoods behind in exchange for uncertain economic opportunity in Mbour. Through MAP’s programs in Senegal, we will help them build sustainable communities through education, health and hunger relief—and as the world hunkers down to stop the spread of coronavirus, opening our sixth school in the fall is a very welcome light at the end of the tunnel.

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