Ten-year-old Jeannette is a school girl at a basic school in Gitega province in central Burundi. Her journey with school has not been so good since she joined. This is because she has spent most of her learning sessions sitting on the floor, using her legs as a desk when writing.
“In the morning, we sang the national anthem, and after that, we ran towards classrooms. The first to enter would occupy the few desks we had and the rest ended up learning sitting on the floor”, Jeannette says. “My feet would hurt, and I often felt back pain and generalised fatigue.”
The school had a total of 892 school children with only 60 desks, the headmaster Fabien Ndayizeye tells. According to him, such a situation contributed to dropouts, repeat absenteeism and poor performance among children.
In Burundi, the introduction of free basic education propelled increased school enrolments that came with lack of enough school infrastructure. Reports from the Ministry of Education indicate that with the first semester of this school year 2021-2022, Burundi was in need of approximately 200,000 school desks.
Teachers at Jeanette's school, while waiting their situation to improve, had to endure a delicate context that came with consequences such as a non-conducive teaching and learning environment, and demotivation among schoolchildren that led to poor performance and poor hygiene as children learnt while sitting on the floor.
As the surrounding community was aware of the situation at the school, volunteers that work with World Vision as part of its Gitega Area Programme alerted World Vision’s staff, and the organisation resolved to help solve the challenge.
“We donated 180 desks to the basic school since we believe an improved learning environment is a catalyst to good performance and henceforth an assured way to a bright future for children”, says Herman, a World Vision staffer in Gitega Area Programme.
Since the new desks arrived, the learning environment improved significantly, to the satisfaction of staff and school children. “Since you provided to us desks, we learn very well and hope for an increased school performance. In the past, hardship at school would make us be absent for some days but since we have desks the attendance has increased”, says Jeannette.
Concilie, a teacher, also appreciates the donation. "Children now sit comfortably while learning and I am hopeful that this will lead to improved performance. This kind of support should be extended to other places", she says.
VIDEO: How new desks have improved the learning environment for Jeannette and her schoolmates