Cote d'Ivoire

Schools for Africa - Stories from the field

11 August 2020

The most beautiful school in the world

Meet the people of Toumodi-Sakassou, the very first village in Africa to have classrooms and latrines made from recycled plastic bricks.

Arsène Tindé, a teacher, lived in another village, but when he was offered the opportunity to teach primary school in the new Toumodi-Sakassou facility, he quickly accepted and relocated his family to this small village in central Côte d’Ivoire. “I like working in this environment,” he tells us. “The class is very well lit and you don't feel the heat. The conditions are ideal for teaching and for children to learn.”

Arsène’s daughter Anne, who is 8, is also very pleased with her new school. “My school is the most beautiful in the world,” she declares proudly. “I am impressed by the large blackboard and the cleanliness. There is even electricity, and we now have toilets. It’s much better than before, when we had to go into the bush."

Girls going home after school school
Girls going home after school school, in Toumodi-Sakassou, in the center of Côte d'Ivoire. For every child education.

"I am impressed by the large blackboard and the cleanliness. There is even electricity, and we
now have toilets. It’s much better than before, when we had to go into the bush."

Arsène Tindé, a teacher in Cote d'Ivoire

In Côte d'Ivoire, 60 per cent of malaria, diarrhea, and pneumonia cases in children are attributed to poor waste management and only 5 per cent of plastic waste is recycled. Thanks to this innovative project, UNICEF, its partners, and the Colombian social enterprise Conceptos Plásticos are helping to ensure that every child in Toumodi-Sakassou grows up in a healthy environment. As Konaté Kalifa, who also teaches in Toumodi-Sakassou, explains, “Our students are less exposed to diseases, like malaria, because before the construction of the latrines they went into the bush and often came back with insect bites and scratches.”

In the village, the cleanliness of the school and its environment is now everyone’s business. The women of the village have organized themselves into small groups and clean the school every weekend. “This school gives a new face to our village and makes us all proud. It must therefore be kept clean at all times,” says Konan Affoué Françoise, a mother and village resident.

The education of children has always been a priority for the inhabitants of Toumodi-Sakassou. The old earthen and wooden school had been built by the villagers for their own children, but they also welcomed the children of the surrounding villages. Raymond Konan Yao, a dynamic villager and president of the Toumodi-Sakassou development association, is delighted with the new facility.

“I am so pleased to see our children learning under the best conditions. They can now study without worrying about the weather. And although there is no electricity in our village, our school is powered by solar panels. A few years ago, when the whole village came together to build the first village school, we hoped to provide a better future for our children. Now that we have this new school, I have a lot of hope. I can’t wait to see the country’s future leaders coming from my village.”

In Côte d’Ivoire, education is compulsory for children aged 6 to 16, but too many children still do not attend school for various reasons, including lack of classrooms, overcrowded classrooms, distance from home, and the cost of textbooks and supplies. With this need in mind, UNICEF continues to work with the Ministry of Education to build ever more classrooms, as 30,000 additional classrooms are needed for all children to access education in Côte d’Ivoire – and to reach their full potential.