Being awarded the 2018 Schaffhausen Price for Development Work last year represented a crucial first step in order to tackle the next part of our vision for the Mackenzie Community School. Eventually, the goal is to offer full primary level education, that is grades 1 to 7, at the school. In order to do so, at least two additional classrooms were needed. Out of the grant funds received CHF 15,000 were budgeted for this purpose, with the rest being contributed by private donors and other partner organizations.
Utilizing the main school holidays in 2019 we took a two-step approach to complete the second level of the new school building. In April, the temporary roof on the part of the building finished in 2017 was removed. This then allowed us to complete construction of the new second level and permanent roof in August, thereby avoiding any major negative impact on ongoing school operations. Already in the final trimester of the 2019 school year the new classrooms are now being actively used.
Thanks to continued infrastructure investments over the past years, currently 350 students are able to attend Mackenzie Community School. They are enrolled in grades 1 to 5, with the latter offered for the first time in 2019. With the addition of 6th grade at the beginning of 2020 we can retain and accept even more students from the surrounding Mackenzie community. In preparation, the teaching staff has already been expanded and now consists of seven full-time teachers, preparing for the new, enlarged curriculum.
In addition, the new building has resulted in quite some attention and even pride in the Mackenzie community itself. It is the first two-story building in the whole neighborhood and was completely designed and built by a local team of construction workers. This inspired various local enterprises as well as private donors to offer additional help. For example, one corporate donor contributed labor costs for the construction of 50 new benches and desks, utilizing leftover construction lumber from the project.
Concluding two years of work, the new classroom complex will represent iChange’s largest and most complex investment into the school to date. While the new classrooms are already in use, some limited finishing work is still necessary and will take place over the next few months (for example, plastering of the walls, putting in glass window panes, etc.). Our vision then turns to the future, where over the next few years we plan to add more toilets as well as a final set of classrooms to the school complex. The exact timeline has not yet been decided as these additional, significant investments will only be possible in cooperation with other partners and donors.
Furthermore, as a result of the expanded curriculum operating costs have also increased. The introduction of small student fees (CHF 1 - 3 per trimester) has enabled the school to cover most non-personnel costs on its own by now. This represents a small step towards improved self-sustainability. As it is the school’s mission to provide quality education to all children in Mackenzie regardless of their economic situation, at this time any student fees have to be kept low and can only be collected selectively. Teacher salaries amount to CHF 850 per month and cannot yet be covered by these student fees., This represents a significant financial commitment for iChange.
Your generous contributions therefore directly keep the school running, providing a full primary education for many children who otherwise would not have this opportunity. Further information on how to contribute can be found here. Thank you for your support!