For every child, a construction champion
Meet Sylviane Zika, the construction engineer who leads the building of recycled plastic brick classrooms in Côte d’Ivoire.
In Gouékolo, in the West of Côte d’Ivoire, Sylviane Zika, 34, supervises the construction of a plastic bricks school. As a construction engineer, Sylviane works with local companies and workers from the communities to ensure the quality of classroom construction meets the quality and safety standards for children and young people.
"I have 12 years of professional experience and this is the first time I have worked on such an innovative project. My main goal is to create a safe and favourable environment for children to learn." - explains Sylviane. Behind each classroom made of recycled plastic bricks, there is a dynamic group of construction companies, architectural firms, and young people, committed to making communities more child and environment friendly. Her biggest challenge is to reinforce the capacities of the workers in order to build classrooms faster and better. "With this new construction material, we can build classrooms in few weeks rather than a few months which is normally the time it takes to build traditional classrooms with concrete blocks," she adds.
"Since the beginning of the project, my team and I have helped to improve the learning conditions of over 3,000 children across Cote d’Ivoire and this is just the beginning!" - explains Sylviane enthusiastically. In Côte d'Ivoire, UNICEF is working with the Ministry of Education to provide quality learning spaces for all children, especially for primary and preschool children. This innovative UNICEF project also addresses many challenges affecting children’s learning environment. Developed with Colombian based Conceptos Plasticos architects and local communities, the design of the recycled plastic bricks classrooms allows for natural air to flow, making the environment more favourable for learning especially in the hot days of the dry season.
"My biggest satisfaction is to see the amazement and joy of children, teachers and the community at each new rehabilitation or construction. I am also very happy to contribute to the success of this project, which is unique in Africa." - explains Sylviane.
And I'm a woman in a profession that has long been for men, so it's an extra satisfaction to take up this challenge and inspire other women.
In addition to creating quality learning environments for children, by reducing plastic pollution in communities, UNICEF’s objective in partnership with the Colombian enterprise Conceptos Plasticos, is also to combat the spread of diseases responsible for children’s mortality exacerbated by pollution such as malaria, pneumonia, and diarrhoea.
For every child, the right to learn and lie in a healthy environment.