Stop sacrificing the future of our children

Dear Readers Some of you have expressed concern, asking if I am still in Koudougou. They worry because the pace of publication of our abc newsletter has slowed down to such an extent that some wonder if it has vanished. No, I must reassure you, I think it still has good times ahead.

Bâtiment de l'administration de l'Université de Koudougou

The University of Koudougou has nearly 13000 students enrolled

My last letter was indeed dated April 5. Nowadays I am not as resilient to the heat as I was ten years ago! Therefore I travel less across Burkina than I used to do and my meetings with the farmers occur less frequently.

On the other hand I now increasingly follow what is going on here in Koudougou. It is a university town with lots and lots of colleges and high schools and with an informal sector in full expansion. A whole world which gets little media attention but which is not devoid of interest. Without it Koudougou would be a dead city.

As of September a new and young colleague will join our team and will be able to travel all over Burkina to meet with the farmers. Personally I will try and help you discover the town of Koudougou, its population, the young, the men and women and in particular those who are able to survive on what they can gain from work in the informal sector.

We will set up a new site for this. The letter below by “Le Fou” is from the daily paper LE PAYS (n° 5890 of July 3) and is entirely in line with what I wish to convey.

Secteur informel : les kiosques, nombreux en villeOne aspect of what goes on in the informal sector: the numerous small street vendors in town

Stop sacrificing the future of our children !

The school year is over. Every student has harvested the fruit of her or his labour during the past nine months. Those who have worked well have been successful. Those less lucky or less diligent are in tears today. In fact I saw students crying desperately last week. At my queries I was told that they had just failed their matriculation examination, le baccalauréat. I did not take this too seriously, seeing no reason to feel sorry for the lazy. But which was not my surprise when I went to see my aunt Sidpayété, who told me that her daughter Brigitte, who is very fond of going to school, had failed her O-levels of the General Certificate of Education, the BEPC. Wanting to know more I learnt the following from her husband, who is a school inspector in secondary education: “You know, young man, some failures at school are not exclusively the fault of the pupils”. He added that there are schools that should be closed, because they do not respect their schedules, in particular in the private sector. “This was the case at the school my daughter was in. From the month of March and onwards there were no more classes, because the founder refused to pay the teachers” he explained visibly angered. I admit that I was shocked. Not only do these schools not carry out the full course, but they also recruit teachers who do not have the right profile for their subject. All this because the founder does not want to spend the money. Consequence: Disastrous results at exams! It seems to me that some educational institutions drag our children along to be sacrificed. Forceful action should be taken against all these illegitimate establishments. There is another fact which I deplore in the private sector: very often inflated marks are given, as each private school wishes to show that it is the best, with the highest grades. This complacency is flattering the students, who are led to believe that they are good, whereas the reality is altogether different. This is an outright lack of responsibility. Their complacency is not helping the students. I know some students who later on have been blocked in their educational career. They have tried to pass their Ordinary General Certificate of Education, BEPC, nearly four times, or their higher education certificate, le baccalauréat, but in vain. Losing hope they finally give up. This is not normal. We cannot let educational institutions sacrifice the future of our children. Therefore I appeal to the Government. It should make it a matter of honour to fight this structural havoc, which may in the end discredit our educational system. First, severe action has to be taken against all these illegitimate establishments, which crop up from one year to another in both urban and rural quarters. Secondly unannounced visits should be carried out in most private schools to make sure that they live up to the curriculum. And finally it will be necessary to ensure that private school teaching staff has the required level and profile for their respective subjects. If not, things will go from bad to worse in the private schools in this country. Incidentally I know that in the West it is rather the private schools that score the best performance levels at exams. I do certainly recognise that there are private schools here, which work very well and provide a good education. But as the saying goes, “where there is one evil serpent, we try to kill all the others”. We have to learn to separate the wheat from chaff. That is the price to pay to make sure that we can decontaminate the educational system from an overfill of peddlars of illusory success.

« Le Fou »

End of article

Koudougou, July 4, 2015
Introduction by Maurice Oudet
Director and Editor of SEDELAN

FaLang translation system by Faboba