When the center John C and Elie K International popularly known as Smart Schools Network for Smart Learning and Smart Cities started in September 2019 a campus in the North of the Province of Bujumbura at Buterere with the support of ASASS, we did not know that the small nursery service limited to child supervision, training of trainers, administrative Committee and family social aid would have advantages beyond our expectations. We did not believe that one day we could become a center for excellence, knowledge and leadership, a project of reference school for the larger Burundian districts and a population of nearly 40,000 inhabitants in the north of the province of Bujumbura with the economy rates of 35%, people living by agriculture, small income activities out of 75% of the population in rural areas, a percentage which does not prevent a strong movement of migration to the capital Bujumbura, causing complications in the reception of these migrants.
The center has started small, with a small group of dedicated teachers, two elementary school classrooms and a daycare service, but it has big aspirations. ASASS plans to gradually expand the education center in 17 provinces and in 114 districts of Burundi, to include a secondary school and college. Therefore the center John C and Elie K International’s top priority is to be a response to ASASS’s higher demand of specialized and highly graduates staff and volunteers in Burundi and International communities without barriers.
In this respect, the center will expand to offer a professional development course for volunteer staff, human resources, maintenance technicians, computer scientists, engineers and adult literacy for the community. It will also offer a world-class hybrid international academic program. But due to the shortage of ressource trainers we will find a solution in the online learning platforms and international professor’s commitment in Burundi-based online academy, opening gates to higher education and learning International careers skills. We are always looking for donors or partners to help us achieve this goal!
For the 2020-2021 academic year, the priority of the center is to open gates to higher education and learning International academy. The academy will train teachers and other human resources at the center John C and Elie K International, the volunteers in Burundi and International communities.
We aim to provide the center with a studio for the editing, designing, printing, production and distribution of educational materials including but not limited Worksheets for students, teachers , books, graphics, audio, videos, and other visual arts products. There is a big need of school library. Imagine a big community without a public library. We will appreciate our community’s contribution of idea, reference and in kind support.
We have received much positive feedback from the community – the growing list of children waiting for admission is certainly a testament to the value of the education provided.
The second priority is development of a school management system. This will help us in the computerization of our Smart Schools Network for Smart Learning and Smart Cities in Africa, Burundi.
We achieve this by empowering school club leaders in 114 Burundi districts and in 54 Africa Regional Focal Points (RFP) who work to help ASASS’s children, young mothers and parents of our students, and ensure the economic empowerment of families which support school in their Microfinance groups.
Another crucial priority is to establish volunteers coordination office , to support our mentors and International online volunteers from Burundi, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, the USA, Canada , UK and India, to serve our small Non-profit and its projects like John C and Elie K International to achieve plans and our people get help and technical assistance from the well-established international liaison office.
Office is important in further engagement of community in part-time overseas volunteer service to Burundi as part of this long-term project to ensure that we help children and parents in need of a better world.
More than education
The local community has also seen other positive benefits since the establishment of the school center. In particular, with more young children in school and daycare, more mothers have been able to enter the workforce or take on more stable work.
Around the world, women typically spend more time taking care of young children than men do. This trend is particularly visible in Africa, where mothers spend significantly more time than fathers in caring for their children. The COVID-19 crisis has only exacerbated these challenges worldwide, with many schools and childcare centers closing their doors during lockdowns. As noted by the International Labour Organization, when women don’t have access to good childcare options like daycares or schools, they have to reduce the hours they work, shift to lower-paid jobs, or stop working altogether, losing valuable income. This is occurring despite the demonstrated fact that when women participate in the labour market, their families, community and society at large all benefit.
The opening of the Smart School for Smart Learning and Smart Cities, John C and Elie K International, has given some 20 families a safe, secure place to send their children during the day, freeing mothers to take on productive, stable work.
Access to education for adolescents and teenagers also has benefits for society. When older children do not attend school or other training programs, they are at risk of abuse, violence, early pregnancies (for girls) and child labour. John C and Elie K International therefore hopes to engage adolescents, especially girls and women, in its forthcoming secondary school, college and training programs, keeping them in school and safe.