The most beautiful school in the world

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

Fanta Kone, Digital Strategist.
Primary school girls play in front of their school built from plastic bricks in the village of Toumoudi-Sakassou in Côte d’Ivoire
UNICEF/Frank Dejongh

23 January 2020

In the village of Toumodi Sakassou, 300 km North of Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, Arsène Tindé, a teacher and father, helps his 8-year-old daughter Anne with her homework. Arsène teaches at primary school in the village's new school built from recycled plastic bricks. Arsène used to live in another village, but when he was offered to come to work the village of Toumodi Sakassou, he accepted promptly and relocated his family to this small village in the center of Côte d’Ivoire. “I love  working in this environment. There is a lot of light coming in, and it is not too hot in the classroom. The conditions are ideal to teach and for children to learn.” says Arsène, primary school teacher, Toumodi-Sakassou.

Arsène Tindé, a 39-year-old teacher, helps his 8 year old daughter Anne with her homework on the porch of their house in Toumoudi-Sakassou in Côte d’Ivoire.
UNICEF/Frank Dejongh
Arsène Tindé, a 39-year-old teacher, helps his 8 year old daughter Anne with her homework on the porch of their house in Toumoudi-Sakassou in Côte d’Ivoire.

His daughter Anne is also very happy with her new school, “I am very impressed by the big blackboard and the cleanliness. There is even electricity and we now have toilets. It is such an improvement from before when we had to go in the bush.

My school is the most beautiful in the world.

Anne, 8- year old

“This gives me hope because if it can be done here, it can be done in other villages. We also learned about the environment and how this school was built, using recycled plastic.”

 
Anne Tindé, 8 years-old, in her new class constructed from plastic bricks, in Toumoudi-Sakassou, central Côte d’Ivoire.
UNICEF/Frank Dejongh
Anne Tindé, 8 years-old, in her new class constructed from plastic bricks, in Toumoudi-Sakassou, central Côte d’Ivoire.

In Côte d'Ivoire, 60% of malaria, diarrhea and pneumonia cases in children can be attributed to improper waste management and only 5% of plastic waste is recycled. With this innovative project, UNICEF, Colombian social business Conceptos Plasticos and its partners want to ensure that every child grows in a healthy environment. In addition to classrooms, latrines were built from recycled plastic bricks. Konate Kalifa explains how this contributes to keeping the students healthy and in school, "Our students are less exposed to diseases like malaria than before the latrines were built; they used to go to the bush and often came back with insect bites and scratches." Konate and her colleagues have been teaching students to keep their latrines clean and wash their hands after using them.

Kalifa Konate is a primary school teacher in Tomoudi-Sakasssou in Côte d’Ivoire
UNICEF/Frank Dejongh
Kalifa Konate is a primary school teacher in Tomoudi-Sakasssou in Côte d’Ivoire
 Children washing their hands at school, in the village of Toumoudi-Sakassou Côte d’Ivoire
UNICEF/Frank Dejongh
Children washing their hands at school, in the village of Toumoudi-Sakassou Côte d’Ivoire

In the village, the cleanliness of the school and its environment is now everyone's business. Women of the village organized themselves in groups and clean the school every weekend. "This school gave a new face to our village and made us all proud. It has to be clean at all the time," says Konan Affoué Françoise, a mother and resident of Toumodi-Sakassou.

Konan Affoué Françoise, mother and resident of the village of Toumoudi-Sakassou
UNICEF/Frank Dejongh
Konan Affoué Françoise, mother and resident of the village of Toumoudi-Sakassou

The education of children has always been a priority for the people of Toumodi-Sakassou. The old school made of earth and wood had been built by the villagers to allow all children to go to school and even welcomed children from surrounding villages. Raymond Konan Yao, a dynamic villager and President of the development association of Toumoudi-Sakassou is thrilled with the project; "I am so happy to see our children learning in the best conditions. They can now study and learn without worrying about the weather. Also, there is no electricity in our village but our school is powered by solar panels. A few years ago, when all the village came together to build the first buildings of the village school, we were hoping to provide a better future for our children, now that they have this school, I am very hopeful. I can't wait to see the future leaders of the country coming from my village."

Raymond Konan Yao, President of the development association of Toumoudi-Sakassou is all smiles in front of the plastic bricks school
UNICEF/Frank Dejongh
Raymond Konan Yao, President of the development association of Toumoudi-Sakassou is all smiles in front of the plastic bricks school

In Côte d'Ivoire, education is mandatory for children 6 to 16 years old, yet too many children still do not go to school because of the lack of classrooms, overcrowded classes, the distance between their house and the school, and the cost of textbooks as well as  school supplies. UNICEF is working with the Ministry of Education to build more classrooms as there is a need for 30,000 classrooms for all children to access education in Côte d’Ivoire. 

 

For every child, quality education and a chance to reach its full potential. 

Girls going home after school, in the village of Toumoudi-Sakassou, in Côte d’Ivoire.
UNICEF/Frank Dejongh
Girls going home after school, in the village of Toumoudi-Sakassou, in Côte d’Ivoire.