Saturday, 16 June 2012

A smashing time for children in Madagascar

Today on the BBC Luke Freeman wields a hammer in a Madagascar quarry as he discovers why Malagasy children must close their minds to the ‘smashing’ time they are having in the mines. To hear it now follow the link

Luke exposes the harsh reality for children who must forego their education to work to feed themselves and their families. As poverty rises so to does child labour, with a shocking 30% of Malagasy children aged 5-14 now in work. However the need to earn money is not the only thing keeping Malagasy children out of school.
According to UNICEF The average Malagasy completes only 4.4 years of school” which is “a direct result of a lack of capacity: Madagascar does not have enough trained teachers and it does not have enough classrooms.”
 In our work with poor farming villages in Madagascar’s highlands, we have found parents that will make huge sacrifices to enable their children to go to school. This year we worked with four such isolated villages where children were unable to study for want of a classroom.
When the roof burned off the school at Ambatofangehana it really was the final straw!
 Kilometres away from the nearest road or town these forgotten villages have long stopped hoping for any help from the Malagasy Government. Instead the parents and teachers picked up their shovels and started to build their own schools. Seeing the commitment and determination of these communities to educate their children has inspired MfM to support them in their efforts.

Parents and teachers dig the foundations of Antanetilehibe Primary School
This year MfM has given over 500 children the chance to study in a safe, rain-proof environment by building 7 new classrooms and renovating 2 mud & thatch classrooms.
Children of Antanetilehibe check out their completed classrooms.
 Of course you can’t build a school with bricks and mortar alone and MfM is increasingly concerned with what happens inside and outside the classroom. This year we have launched a new teacher-training programme, which aims to inspire and inform teachers, equipping them to teach useful knowledge in a stimulating and relevant way. We are focussing on environmental education, which is highly relevant to Malagasy children. For Madagascar’s prized, acutely endangered eco-system to survive, young Malagasy people need to understand and care about it. And indeed for rural Malagasy children themselves to survive they will need to learn how to restore and protect their local environment before all fertility is lost from the land and there is no wood left to cook with.

No trees need to be felled to make
these charcoal pellets from clay and leaves

In the coming months our students will be taking a school trip to the Ranomafana rainforest, starting their own plant nurseries and learning how to cook without felling trees. In 2012 over 2000 children will benefit from this programme. We look forward to sharing some of their progress with you.

 Many thanks to our generous donors who have made this programme possible.