By Isaac P. Sogoba - Communications Coordinator
Schools are places where children can grow and develop skills for life. Given the fact that this place is where students spend most of their time, their security and protection are a top priority for tutors and parents.
But at one school in Mali, children couldn’t learn because of one disruption after another. And one of those disruptions threatened their lives.
In the village of Nafadi in Diéma district. children's security was at risk—a risk that World Vision could address by building a fence. A fence would be a lifesaver for students of Nafadi School.
The school's buildings were surrounded by three large ponds; ponds whose waters are home to fish - but also, several crocodiles. Being cold-blooded reptiles, when it is cool, the crocodiles often rest on waterside banks, allowing the sun to warm their bodies. During the hottest part of the day, the animals will move into the shade or into water to prevent their body from overheating.
The ideal shade and resting place for the crocodiles from Nafadi village was often the school classrooms. This would understandably cause panic in the school.
Moussa, a 13-year-old student in 6th grade at Nafadi School, says “I am very happy today when I look at the new school fence because it protects us from many things. Before its completion, wandering animals (goats, donkeys, sheep –and crocodiles) always disturbed us. Apart from the dangers for us, these animals also disrupted us in classes. Sometimes, the teacher would ask students to chase them out of the school playground. When that happened, we used to miss classes while running around after these creatures.”
The teenager adds that the problem was not only the animals wandering in the school playground. Local people used the school site as a shortcut to reach the village and to fetch water in the school borehole. “Motorcyclists did not hesitate to cross the schoolyard during classes”, he says. “Other people came to fetch water with their donkeys and tied them to the carts. This was very disturbing for us because the donkeys use to make a lot of noise.”
One day, there was a very dangerous visitor.
“One time, a crocodile came to rest in the classroom of the 1st-grade students and they were obliged to leave the school until the animal was removed three days later”, says Moussa. “We thank World Vision who build the fence; it protects us against all things that undermine our protection. Students and teachers, we are all happy now.”
After the construction of the fence, the school management committee established rules to help preserve it. Roles were announced to all, and those who do not respect them are sanctioned with a fine. In addition, pupils are encouraged not to jump the fence, but to rather use the school gates. The fence brought order and protection because the school gate is closed after the arrival of all the students.
Mr. Ibrahima Sylla, the director of Nafadji School, says now the students can focus on learning.
“In the past, we would take the students out of class, to chase animals in the school playground”, he says. “We were aware that it was bothering them and disrupted the classes, but we had no choice. In addition, the playground was the alleyway for motorcyclists and the resting place of creatures including the crocodiles. As such, we are not protected from danger and outside disturbances. Today, I am pleased that the disorder and panic ended in the schoolyard.”
The school director is also grateful for the fact that his school also benefited from the building of latrine units for students and teachers. ‘'Thanks to World Vision, we have latrines. This allows us to apply appropriate hygiene measures. We can say without hesitation that our current structure respects the minimal standards for a good learning environment. We value this support because it ensures a better future for our students”, he concludes.