April 13, 2016
A drawing contest themed on "Garbage, Art, and International Exchange" was held on April 6th and 13th, 2016, as one facet of the project NyamaNyama, at School C of Diébougou (195 participants) and Dapelogo B school (176 participants). It was targeted for elementary school children of 4th, 5th, and 6th grade.
The project was initiated by two JICA volunteers working in Burkina Faso, West Africa: Yoko Ichikawa allocated to Educational Office of Dapelogo1 (Category: Primary School Education) and Miyu Sakurai allocated to Health Districts of Diébougou (Community Development), and one volunteer in Sri Lanka, South Asia: Naoko Takada allocated to Central Environment Authority (Environmental Education). It operated under the cooperation of the directors and teachers at each school, and a painter from Diébougou.
Garbage: Littering is currently one of the biggest issues in Burkina Faso. Use of trashcans instead of littering has not yet been recognized as a necessity among most of the population. By educating the children on how littering can pollute the environment and have a negative affect on the inhabitants' well-being, our goal is to empower them to protect and care for their health and environment.
Art: Almost all of the public elementary schools' art classes are instructed by teachers who have never studied art. Therefore, in current art classes in most schools, children often imitate some drawings or photos without access to materials or proper technique. A short lesson led by a professional painter and the use of the provided colored crayons allows children the experience of expressing their senses freely by drawing.
International Exchange: Opportunities for the population to obtain information on foreign countries are extremely rare. By creating a chance to communicate with elementary school children from another continent, we hope to expand the children's intellectual horizon and imaginability.
The project was built upon the idea that "verbal lectures alone might be easily forgettable." By adding hands-on activities, we aimed to deepen children's understanding on the matter of littering. As a result, combining lectures on garbage with new experiences such as expressing their senses through drawing and engaging in exchange with a foreign country, seemed to have many positive impressions on the children. In Diébougou, many children have started shouting "Sri Lanka!!" every time they see the volunteer, and to the question ‘What do you want to say to the students of Sri Lanka?' many said "Merci (Thank you)!!"
Yoko Ichikawa, a volunteer at Dapelogo who regularly works at elementary schools said, "This opportunity of having an exchange with Sri Lanka, the country which children have never even heard of, has become such a fresh experience for them, and also for myself. The eyes of the children were shining more than ever while listening to the stories of Sri Lanka. I felt worthwhile."
Siméon Kaboré, director of Dapelogo B school expressed the significance of the project as following: "This drawing contest offers several benefits to the school, particularly to the students, in its contribution for improving their awareness on the hygienic issue. It stimulates their competitiveness and allows cultural exchange between the two continents, particularly among those students of Dapelogo and Sri Lanka."
Hamidou Ouattara, a painter from Diébougou talked about the importance of art education: "In the educational system, which aims to grow children's intellectuality, moral, mind, and manipulability, drawing must have its own role. The work done in the two schools indicates the success of the near future, where drawing and environmental issues will be considered as important subjects to be taught in schools."
Naoko Takada, a volunteer in Sri Lanka gave following comment: "The initial aim was to help our children understand the environmental issue of each country, in this case, garbage, through exchanging drawings. It turned out to be a great opportunity for all the participants. They've learned that the issue of garbage is common and serious at some global level. By carefully observing the polluted environment with their own eyes, they've also come to recognize its negative impacts on their own community. Additionally, it gave them an opportunity to connect and interact with children outside of the country, an opportunity they would have never had a chance to have without this occasion. We all are truly thankful and not only the children but all the school faculty members involved are extremely excited about this program and look forward to receiving the drawings from Burkina Faso."
Many people from different backgrounds with different thoughts in mind have gathered to make the drawing contest happen. There is nothing in education that can be done within a day, and we never could have known what the children felt, thought, or imagined during the practice. However, the hope we all share is that each joyful and impressive moment they experienced on this day will stay in their hearts forever as important essences that will brighten the future of these children.
Dapelogo B School 4th grade
Children fascinated with the photos of Sri Lanka
Children with their drawings (left: Burkina Faso, right: Sri Lanka)