Across many villages and schools in rural Cameroon a new paradigm is emerging. Young girls who would otherwise be working the fields to help their families eke out a subsistence are going to school regularly. When they do, they are not listless and hungry and inattentive as the prevailing material poverty would command. They are paying attention and learning to read and write and get their wings as scholars. In predominantly muslim IPS Njombo and christian Bamkikai, the effectiveness of the US Department of Agriculture’s McGovern-Dole Food For Education Program implemented by Nascent in Bui Division is transforming the well-being and education outcomes of children, and most importantly, communal attitudes towards education, particularly the education of girl children.
3 years in, Nascent’s broad community outreach and sensitization has inspired enthusiastic support and buy-in for all facets of the USDA flagship. PTA’s and community members have tilled, tended and harvested the school gardens. Volunteers have cooked and served USDA donated rice, beans and locally grown supplemental vegetables and foods. And through social disruption of schools, parents queued up in long lines to sign out books and receive take-home rations, for the Mobile Reading and Take-Home Rations crises adaptations of the program. Local and national government officials have supported and helped facilitate coordination and execution of the program in government schools in the region.
Nascent’s construction of new classrooms, libraries, clean water wells, water tanks, hand-washing stations, bathrooms and kitchens in over 45 schools and the establishment of school gardens in 92 schools has gone a long way to establishing a foundation for the demonstrated and united commitment to education to take root in healthy, sanitary, learning conducive environments and sow the seeds of future social progress.