Bumpy dirt roads are the only access to most remote schools in the north of Ivory Coast; visitors are an uncommon sighting, and books are even more of a luxury. Imagine the joyful surprise of the following scene: amidst the opaque colors of a small rural Ivorian village, appears a stranger on a noisy motorcycle with a bright, beautiful box: full of colorful new books of all shapes and sizes. Curiosity awakens, joy and discovery invigorate the receiving schools– sparking a new chapter for these eager students.
As Kofi Atta Annan states: “Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope. It is a tool for daily life in modern society. It is a bulwark against poverty, and a building block of development, an essential complement to investments in roads, dams, clinics and factories. Literacy is a platform for democratization, and a vehicle for the promotion of cultural and national identity. Especially for girls and women, it is an agent of family health and nutrition. For everyone, everywhere, literacy is, along with education in general, a basic human right…. Literacy is, finally, the road to human progress and the means through which every man, woman and child can realize his or her full potential.”
UN data reveals that more than 393 million children have failed to gain the basic literacy skills at age 10; and in the case of Ivory Coast, the reading rates have always been low, with the reality that one third of children who start in 1st grade will drop out before finishing primary school. In response, AVSI has been working to improve literacy skills in 613 schools of Ivory Coast through the USDA/McGovern-Dole Program. Led by the World Food Program from 2016 to 2021, 150,000 students were able to receive quality school meals.
The program received praises from the Ministry of Education and Alphabetization (MENA) in Ivory Coast, key collaborators in the success of the ongoing endeavor. AVSI delivered 1,839 mobile libraries, 129,964 textbooks and reading tools; organized catch-up courses for use in- and after-school; and trained and supported 3,678 teachers. Under the trees outside, teachers have been able to hold reading animations, bringing to life new adventures and stories. Children have become excited to learn and read again.
AVSI will reinforce literacy skills through targeted activities and teacher training in close collaboration with the MENA. AVSI will carry out water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) activities through rehabilitating water points, restoring latrines and ensuring safe water in targeted schools of the Cavally Region, Bafing Region, Bagoue, Poro, and Tcholongo Region, and Bounkani and Gontougo Region.