Build a School in Africa 2020 Newsletter

Dear Build a School in Africa supporters,

This past year has presented many challenges. With the Covid-19 pandemic, a tumultuous political climate in the US, and a coup in Mali in August, you might expect that BSA’s projects in 2020 would have come to a halt. Nevertheless, we built 3 more schools this year, bringing our total to 26 new schools since 2005.

February 2020 – Zangabougou under construction

Early in 2020, a two-room school was built in Zangabougou, financed primarily by the Schools for Africa Club at Lincoln/Sudbury Regional High School in Massachusetts, followed by another two-room school in Fantala, funded mostly by a California tech company which has helped us build several schools in recent years. Additional funding to complete the schools was provided by numerous individual donations from our generous supporters.

April 2020 -New school in Fantala

Our most ambitious project yet, a three room middle school , including electricity and water hookups and teaching supplies and materials, was completed in Mancourani B, a neighborhood in the city of Sikasso. We have built the vast majority of our schools in small rural villages, but the Mancourani schools were dramatically overcrowded, and we were happy to be able to provide three additional classrooms to solve the problem.

April, 2020 – Mancourani B under construction

A family foundation that has built several other schools in partnership with us provided all the funding. The school was finished just as the Covid-19 pandemic had reached Mali. We were concerned about construction workers carrying the virus back to their home villages or neighborhoods, so they were required to avoid public transportation and take other social distancing precautions; the school was finished safely in June.

June 2020 – Finished school at Mancourani B

We remain in frequent contact with our partners in Mali. Until the fall months, Co-Vid had not created catastrophic cascade of infection and mortality you might expect, given the crowded living conditions and multi-generational family structures. But Abou writes,” Recently the pandemic is unfortunately progressing, and we are now experiencing a second surge, which is growing quickly in densely-populated Bamako; schools are now closed.”

He adds, “We have two more villages on our waiting list, Kintieri and Tionso, and hope to build at least one of them this year. If we can secure the funding, we can build safely by integrating safety protection measures and policies during the building process.”

Interior of an old classroom in a mud-brick school building in Tionso

The village of Kintieri has had a primary school since the 1980s which is supported by the community members. The middle school was created in 1993 with 3 classrooms built by the community, but it does not meet government standards and is small and overcrowded. Most of the children entering grade 7 must move to another village in order to continue their education.

The village of Tionso has some old-style mud-brick classrooms for their 441 students – 204 girls and 237 boys. Community leaders would like to build three concrete block classrooms to improve the working and learning conditions that presently exist, as the mud-brick schools also do not meet government standards and are too small, as well as dark and stuffy, with poor lighting and air circulation. This could be a serious problem if the Covid virus reaches the village.

Solar panel to provide light at a rural primary school

We hope that you all have been able to stay safe and healthy during the past harrowing year, and can maintain good health in 2021 as well. Let’s hope that the end of the pandemic is in sight.

Sending you best wishes for the holidays,

Judy Lorimer, Madou Traore, Abou Coulibaly, and Matthew Heberger