Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Madagascar Building More Schools Due to New Brick Technology

Due to efforts by the Madagascar government to improve children's lives and education opportunities, primary school enrollment rates have reached nearly 90%. While a success story, Madagascar is still struggling to build 2,000 new classrooms a year to keep up with demand. Luckily UNICEF and Madagascar's ministry of education have found a way to save both money and time.
Traditional bricks are baked in kilns, but new technology means that bricks can now be made with very little concrete and can be pressed on site and air dried. The new process will save $1,000 per school and eliminates the burning of wood - a shrinking commodity in an already impacted area. It previously took three months or more to build a school, but with the new machinery two workers can create 400 bricks in a day - cutting the process down to two months.
Along with the schools, UNICEF has also managed to build 19 children's centers in the country's capital, where children can get a free meal and be taken care of while their parents work. This is an alternative for families who can't afford school fees. Some funding comes from UNICEF directly, but local communities have collected money to give small stipends to volunteers and have donated food for nutritious lunches. The centers give children, that would otherwise have to work or beg, a safer option.

- Clara Hill