17 December 2008
On 29 November, JRS officially handed over responsibility for four primary schools to education officials in Odienné district in the north of the country. Since July, JRS has completed the reconstruction of these schools damaged during a 2002 coup d'état.More than five hundred students, members of parent-teacher associations, JRS staff, state officials and traditional leaders, attended the ceremony and subsequent celebrations.
"We are truly grateful; JRS has helped us to achieve our dream of rebuilding and strengthening our schools", one beneficiary told Dispatches.
Having completed the physical construction of schools, JRS is currently preparing, in cooperation with the education department, to supervise a state teacher training programme, scheduled to begin on 19 December. In line with national guidelines, JRS will offer additional training in pedagogical methods and school administration to enhance teachers' capacities.
In January, with the arrival of state-sponsored trainee teachers, JRS will offer recreational and cultural activities for children, especially those who risk leaving school early. Members of parent teacher associations, including carpenters, have helped construct desks and other school furniture provided with JRS support.
The conflict which divided Côte d'Ivoire into an opposition ruled north and government run south destroyed infrastructure and closed public services, hitting northern regions hardest. The school system was greatly disrupted. Since the conflict ended some 60,000 of the estimated 700,000 displaced have returned home.
Although the situation has improved considerably since the April 2007 peace accord was signed, analysts fear the country could destabilise again if key issues underlying the crisis are not resolved. Elections, to be held on 30 November, were recently delayed for a third time. A new election timetable is expected to be set on 31 December
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