Blog from the field - Education in Sahamalaza

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The final blog-worthy leg of the trip was the drive from Antsohihy back to Ankify, a northern port town form which we would begin our travel back to the capital. Guy gave us a tour around the region’s schools, supported by the AEECL. It was here that the poverty of Madagascar hit home. Guy explained that there was a central school in the region, but he wanted to show us the local village schools first. More kids could go to school if it was in their own village, particularly in the wet season.

He said that classes would start very early in the morning, so kids of different ages could attend different sessions, as the schools themselves consisted of only one or two classrooms. The first we visited had been hammered by a cyclone, the roof, partly torn off and leaking. The second had lost its roof all-together and its walls. A loan pupil sat at his desk, with his book and pen, in front of a warped blackboard.

His teacher explained that attendance was sporadic as most of the pupils struggled to get there via flooded roads.
The regional school was bigger. Solar panels provided power and the classrooms were packed with kids, all squished together behind desks, some sitting on the floor. The head teacher explained what each class was learning and Guy expanded, telling us about tree planting projects that involved whole communities.   
While many of the schools lack supplies and are in need of repair, one of the prevailing problems across the board is bats. Without proper ceilings and doors, bats roost in the classrooms. The resulting guano leaves a pungent smell and the faeces is a dangerous health hazard for the students. A solution would be to have a proper ceiling installed below the roof and screens on the windows – seems so simple yet requires funds that are desperately lacking. AEECL is working hard to raise the money to make such improvements but help is needed to make a difference for all 37 schools in their remit.

If you would like to know more about the work of Bristol Zoological Society with AEECL in Sahamalaza or would like to help in some way with the schools, please contact us at gmccabe@bristolzoo.org.uk.

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