Creation of an Innovative School Model in Rural Madagascar

In March 2020, BBS first shared the story of NY DINA College, in the village of Ambohimader, Madagascar, and its founder Pastor Eugénie.

Ambohimader for many years was served by a public primary school for up to Grade 4 but past this level students dropped out because the nearest secondary school was a daily walk of 20km, roundtrip, away.  Instead, the boys went to work in the fields to help their parents and the girls tended to marry at a very young age.

To address this situation and ensure the continuation of school beyond Grade 4, NY DINA College was founded in 2012 with 20 students in Grades 5+. Today the school has 150 students.  Paralleling the growth of the school was the need to create a sustainable long-term revenue model to support the school’s operations.

This project was spearheaded by environmentalist and humanitarian Ms. Céline Cousteau and her locally based project team.  In collaboration with the school and village, a revenue model was identified that featured the creation of vegetable gardens on the school’s grounds.  Ambohimader’s inhabitants are mainly farmers with a very low standard of living and this project support several key objectives:

 

  1. Provide nutritious meals for the students.
  2. Serve as an important skills training project.
  3. Be a revenue stream by selling surplus produce in the local markets.

In a little over one-year huge changes have occurred, and key deliverables achieved including:

  1. Building a perimeter wall around the school grounds to ensure the gardens would be protected.
  2. Trench system was built to collect rainwater to get the school through Madagascar’s dry season.
  3. Skill training for staff members to take over the project long term.
  4. Planting a variety of free trees and vegetable gardens. In total, 275 trees have been planted with 50% fruit trees and 50% for soil protection and biomass, and the remaining designated school grounds are now growing a diverse range of vegetables.

Cornerstone to the success of the project, was the role of the local agronomists that we wish to acknowledge.  As educators they facilitated a three-day intensive workshop to introduce new farming techniques such as crop rotation, water management, plant care and soil management. The workshop consisted of hands-on activities as well as classroom discussions and served as an excellent launch for the next phase of the project. As planners, the agronomists were responsible for the overall plan based on the soil analysis they conducted and then overseeing the rollout.

While our project mission has been accomplished, the local agronomists are committed to continuing to follow up and support the health and growth of the gardens. They’ll work with the students and school team through the various seasons to help them understand what is needed to prepare the soil for the next season as well as the importance of crop rotation and crop planning.

In addition, the local project team will support the school to find a marketplace to sell the surplus produce. This new source of revenue is a huge step forward in being able to achieve their bigger goal of being self-sustaining.

On behalf of everyone involved in this project, we want to thank all the donors for their contributions to this work.  We are truly grateful for the support received from around the world to improve not only the lives of the students but their families and their community.

Your donation will go towards the continued supported of the
NY DINA College school garden project.