Manjo's story: Making the grade
MADAGASCAR, June 2010 - We first met Manjo in October 2009, when he was startign the second grade for the third time in his small community in southern Madagascar.According to Manjo's teacher, he is an excellent student and a natural leader. But Manjo was not moving on to the next grade, like most boys his age. He was repeating second grade for the third time becasue his school only offered two years of education. The nearest school offering the third grade was too far for Manjo to reach.
But Manjo did not give up hope. "I feel sad about having to repeat, but rather than drop out, I prefer to stay in grade two. I like to learn, and I believe - I hope - one day they will send a second teacher to our school and then I will be able to move onto grade three."
We also met Manjo's mother Vaha, and his brother and sister. His mother explained that she could only afford to send Manjo to school, and that the other children had to stay home to help her make a living out of the small patch of land. "Manjo's father died when Manjo was just two years old. So there is no one else at home. That is why I need my other gwo children - my son Damy, who is 14, and my daughter, Vaha, who is ten - at home to help me. They help me in the field and around the house"
Schools like Manjo's fall into one of UNICEF's three priority categories for funding, along with communitites with no school at all, and schools affected by cyclones. Funding secured by UNICEF will now help turn Manjo's school into a full cycle primary school, offering five years of primary education.
But Manjo's teacher and other community members did not wait passively for UNICEF support. When we returned to Manjo's school in May to assess the site for the construction of two new classrooms, we found that local residents had recruited a second teacher to teach the third grade. Now there are two teacher teaching the 154 students of the schoold, and Manjo is finally in the third grade.
We also found that Manjo's brother and sister are now also studying. Their teacher, Memeno Rova tells us enthusiastically that the three are bright children, and that she is pleased that their mother has recognised the importance of sending her children to school.
Find out more about Manjo and meet his family and teacher in this photo journal documenting his experiences