One 8 x 5 meter classroom. 150 kindergarteners. One teacher. This is schooling in Darfur.
War Child built this classroom, and one more like it, at a primary school I visited today in El Geneina, West Darfur (pictured). National standards say that there should be no more than 55 students per class. This one was built for 70 and as soon as it was done it was over capacity. We can’t keep up with the demand.
The school itself has a total of 1,400 primary students, three times what it should be. But with a lack of schools and an even more serious lack of teachers (this one has only 21), every school is packed beyond capacity.
Despite the infrastructure challenges, this school is a huge success. War Child worked with the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) to start up a small, for-profit business. The income generated goes towards helping extremely vulnerable children and last year alone the PTA supported 45 orphans and disabled students who otherwise would not have been able to attend.
In the last round of exams, the school’s Grade 8 students scored highest out of all schools in their Administrative District (15 schools total) and ninth in all of West Darfur for final exams. Of the 64 students at the school who wrote exams, 62 passed. More incredibly, 43 of those were girls. The school credits this success to War Child who provided textbooks for each student. At other schools there is one textbook per class and the teacher keeps it; students are left to study only from the notes they may or may not have taken throughout the year.
With success come added challenges. The school now has an excellent reputation in the community which means increasingly expanding enrollment. Seven of the classrooms are still simple structures of metal rods covered by bamboo matts and tarps (see photo); in the next heavy rain, they’ll see serious damage. So, while much has been achieved, much remains to be done. War Child is committed to completing the job to ensure that all the children of Darfur are educated.