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Community contracts help build child-friendly schools in Madagascar

© UNICEF Video
Parents listen to a presentation before signing contracts to commit to better educational opportunities for their children in remote Ambohitnibe, Madagascar.

By Misbah Sheikh

AMBOHITNIBE, Madagascar, 26 March 2007 – In the middle of an isolated community, an hour’s walk from the nearest road, there is a primary school that is setting the standard for child-friendly education in Madagascar.

In the past five years, enrolment at the Ambohitnibe School has gone up from 155 to 207, graduation rates have almost doubled and dropout rates have been reduced sharply. The reason for this success? A contract signed between parents, teachers, school administrators, local community members and students to keep children in a quality school.

Since the contract was signed, parents committed to their children’s education have renovated the school building, opened up a canteen, constructed solar panels for hot water and provided learning tools to help students with arithmetic. Soon the parents will begin work on a library and football field.

© UNICEF Video
Children head off in groups to ensure that all children have safe travel to and from school.

Help from ‘big brothers’ and ‘big sisters’

“Before, I didn’t want to go to school. But now I am here all the time because we have a cafeteria and competent teachers who know how to teach,” says one young student, Fionana Lalaina Raheliarimalala.

Even older children help through a big ‘brother–big sister’ programme. Every morning, ‘big brothers’ and ‘big sisters’ pick up and guide their assigned younger ‘siblings’ on the 3 to 5 km walk to school, ensuring that no child is left out.

“The Government of Madagascar wants to promote this type of contract programme in all 22 regions of the country,” says UNICEF Education Project Officer Roger Ramamonjioa.

UNICEF has played an integral role in the development of child-friendly schools in Madagascar – financing and educating trainers to help schools put the contracts in place, as well as producing an implementation guide, carrying out frequent field visits and providing material support, particularly for the development of learning materials.




UNICEF correspondent Misbah Sheikh reports on new approaches to making schools in Madagascar more child-friendly.
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