At “Our Kids, Our Future Madagascar”, we believe that education is key to helping people out of poverty.
At “Our Kids, Our Future Madagascar”, we believe that education is key to helping people out of poverty. Our goal is to keep vulnerable kids in primary school by removing the financial barriers they face in accessing education. In Madagascar, a $4 annual school inscription fee is often all that stands between a kid and an education. Only one out of two of the poorest children attends primary school in Madagascar.
Our approach is simple : we identify and recruit dynamic and motivated youth leaders who want to keep their community’s kids in school. Our local youth leaders work with local officials, traditional leaders, and school officials to identify local children who are not attending school. We hold a meeting with the parents – almost all female-headed households – to discuss how we can get the kids back in school. When the parents agree to support their children to attend school, we pay the school inscription fees and provide the children with the school supplies needed for school. Where possible, we also support school lunch programs and ensure that the schools have proper sanitation facilities.
Our story began in 2020 in the village of Anevoka
Our story began in 2020 in the village of Anevoka, located near Madagascar’s most visited national park of Andasibe, one of the last remaining rainforests of Madagascar. Our founders established a reforestation and agroforestry project in Anevoka, aiming to promote sustainable cultivation techniques as an alternative for the traditional slash and burn practices that are destroying Madagascar’s remaining forests.
During the COVID-19 crisis in 2021, we learned that nearly a quarter of the primary students had dropped out of our local primary school. We held a meeting with the parents of the children who dropped out, and found that almost all were female-headed households struggling to survive. Living on the edge of starvation, they simply could not afford to send their kids to school, but were desperate to give their kids an education.
We made an agreement : We would raise the funds to send the kids to school, and the parents committed to keeping them in school. We paid the school fees for 38 kids on a Saturday, and on Monday, 48 kids showed up to return to school. By Tuesday, we were up to 51 kids. An idea was born – let’s do the same in the next village. And the next. Everywhere we found enthusiastic support for getting kids back into school.
We want to keep as many kids as possible in primary school.
Our goal is to keep as many kids as possible in primary schools, in as many parts of Madagascar. But we also want to promote the value of education, and the importance of looking after each other. All too often, there is a stark wealth divide in Madagascar, and too many wealthy people tend to ignore the plight of their poorer neighbors. But our kids ARE our future, and it is important we look after them. That is why we recruit dynamic youth leaders to take responsibility for the kids in their community – we want to promote this sense of public service and the feeling of satisfaction we get from looking after each other.
When we commit to expanding the project to new schools, we ensure that we will have the commitment and funds to look after that school for at least 5 years. Paying school inscription fees, providing school supplies, and providing a three meals a week lunch program cost approximately $8,000 per school per year, so we want to make sure we have the funding commitments and partnerships in place to ensure continuity and a long-term commitment to the school. The parents commit to keeping their kids in school, so we have to be able to commit to being there to support them.
We are committed to transparency in our governance and spending. Our donors remain directly informed about our activities in the schools they are supporting, and we account for the spending with receipts and regular reports. Our site leaders are there to answer any questions, and you are always welcome to visit the schools and the surrounding parks and reserves with a personal guide.
Peter Bouckaert spent twenty years as Emergencies Director at Human Rights Watch, documenting war crimes around the world. More recently, he has worked on sustainable development and conservation. He is a Senior Advisor to the marine conservation group Blue Ventures in Madagascar.
Nicolette Moodie is the chief of child protection at UNICEF-Madagascar. Previously, she represented UNICEF at the Committee on the Rights of the Child and the Human Rights Council in Geneva, and worked as chief of HIV/AIDS in Zimbabwe.
Toutoune Ramanantenasoa is in charge of environmental education for the Mitsinjo Association, which protects the Analamazaotra forest in Andasibe, one of the last remaining rainforests in Madagascar. She is in charge of our school collaboration in Andasibe.
Rova Ahrilala is in charge of environmental education for GERP, a primate research organization in charge of the 2,000 hectare Maromizaha protected forest in Anevoka. She is in charge of our school collaboration in Anevoka.