Headmaster: Ernest Fonoh
Teachers: 2 x government, 1 x ICA sponsored
Pupils: 250 – 121 boys, 129 girls
Graduation Rate: 100% in 2014
Construction Date: 2007/08
The construction of G.S. Menji Fonjumetaw is a shining example of participatory development. The community of Menji Fonjumetaw (or “little Menji” as it is often called by Canadian ICA volunteers) is located at the gateway to the valley. It has a slightly larger population base than most of the surrounding villages. Ten years ago, the graduation rate for those attending primary school was around 50%. The importance of childhood education was not stressed.
When the project to build a new school was announced, the local population was overjoyed. The community rallied and immediately set to work gathering sticks, stones and sand – all local materials that are necessary for constructing a new establishment. The enthusiasm for building the school quickly seeped into the entire culture of education. One parent, Mathias Nkemzi, explains the gradual change “Children are only available to work on farms after school and Saturdays. Some view [this] positive, some negative, however [there] is pressure from the community to keep them in school”. The data reflects this shift – in 2013 22 pupils graduated from G.S. Menji Fonjumetaw, a 100% graduation rate.
The community has also shown its ongoing support of the school by funding a PTA teacher and organizing a volunteer labour force. The result of all this cooperation is the construction of a new headmaster’s office that is adjacent to the new classrooms. The new office clearly demonstrates a collective willingness to continue expanding and improving its facilities. It also reflects ownership of the educational process.
Possibilities for continued development
The headmaster’s office is constructed with local materials and is therefore subject to erosion. The community of Menji Fonjumetaw has requested that ICA funds the cementing, or plastering, of the mud blocks. A permanent ceiling is also required. They have also expressed the desire to build a new library under the same type of funding arrangement. Additionally, the school suffers from a shortage of teachers. With six classes and only three teachers, the school administration is forced to merge different grades into the same classrooms. One more PTA would help alleviate some of these difficulties.
“Little Menji” has embraced the concept of education since G.S. Menji Fonjumetaw’s construction. The school is an example of a community coming together to effect positive change for an important cause. As one teacher explains “the buildings have created a good environment and mentality for the children, now they are well-taught and well-behaved”.