Children around the world are often crammed into unlit, unsanitary, and unsuitable learning environments. For too many, school can be a dark and crumbling structure, a large tree when weather permits, or a structure in a neighboring village many miles away. In developing countries, 57 million children of primary school age have no classroom access at all. We believe a sound structure is critical to a strong education and creates a safe environment where children are comfortable learning.
In 2013, CofS began a school build program to complement the other ways we are assisting girl children in gaining access to education. We chose buildOn as an implementing partner because of their proven methodology and commitment to ensuring that girls have an equal chance as boys to be in these classrooms. buildOn’s methodology has been honed to break the cycle of poverty, illiteracy, and low expectations. They do not believe, like us, that the world’s most economically poor need charity of the world’s wealthy. Instead, buildOn places the community at the center of its development projects and has high expectations for their participation, leadership, and partnership in school build projects. The community members build their own schools.
Additionally, local governments are active partners in these projects. Local governments help select communities for school construction and prioritize those most in need of school infrastructure. The local government also plays a strong role in sensitizing the community members to ensure that all children are welcomed in the schools regardless of gender, ethnic group, caste, or socio-economic status. The country’s ministry of education provides teachers and support to sustain the schools.
CofS donors, if they choose, are encouraged to choose a trek team to travel to the community to work alongside the community members to start construction on the school. Community members host Trek Teams in their homes and facilitate workshops to teach visitors about the richness of their culture. These treks are not a vacation, a poverty tour or “voluntourism.” The trips are an act of solidarity.
CofS donors have helped us fund the construction of 34 schools as of June 2020. Schools have been funded in remote villages in Guatemala, Haiti, Malawi, Mali, Nepal, Nicaragua, and Senegal. Over 5,000 students, 48% of which are girls, are attending school in their own communities/villages. Committing to a school build project transforms a community and impacts generations by breaking the cycle of poverty, illiteracy, and low expectations.