The hands that build the recycled plastic bricks classrooms
When young people become changemakers in their community while learning new skills.
Diarrassouba Mory, 23-year-old, is helping to build a school made of recycled plastic bricks in Odienné, in the north-west of Côte d'Ivoire where UNICEF is supporting the government to build classrooms in a new and innovative way.
Mory doesn’t live far from the school he is building. "This initiative makes me happy. It's great to give us, young people, the opportunity to participate in such an innovative project that will benefit our community. These buildings are more beautiful than the ones I am used to and I hear they are more durable than those made of traditional materials such as concrete." says Mory.
In Côte d’Ivoire, UNICEF partnered with a Colombian enterprise, Conceptos Plasticos to build classrooms, latrines and health storage units with construction materials made of plastic waste. The construction materials are more durable, easier to transport, and allow to build faster. "The lego-like assembly technique doesn’t require ciment, screws or glue. It makes it a lot faster and easier to build," explains Norman Muwhezi, Innovation Specialist with UNICEF. A classroom made of recycled plastic bricks takes only a few weeks to build instead of months. The technique is also easy to teach even to unskilled workers.
It's the first time I've worked with recycled plastic bricks. It is very easy to build. It is easier and quicker than using concrete, sand and cement
Abou Kone, 33, also helps build a plastic bricks school in his community in Odienné. "It is very hard to find a job in the region. I feel lucky to have this extra work that is also well paid, to support my family. It will be a very nice school and I am sure that my 2-year-old daughter will be happy to study here when she grows up," says Abou.
The whole community is excited about the new school. Unfortunately, in Côte d'Ivoire, many children do not have this chance, especially in rural areas in the North, North-West, and South-West of the country.
In Côte d’Ivoire, school is mandatory for children from 6 to 16 years old yet more than 1,6 million still do not go to school. Children do not go to school for a number of reasons including the fact that schools are too far from where they leave and classrooms overcrowded.
Through this innovative project, UNICEF is looking for better ways to build more classrooms to address this barrier to education while helping young people to make a better living while learning new skills. 60% of the Ivorian population is below 25 years old. Many young people are unskilled and struggle to find a good job especially in the interior of the country.