Video: Education is not compulsory, so we have to make it fun



It’s a pleasure to be able to tell you about our experiences in Burkina Faso. This visit was an inspired idea from the IKEA Foundation and UNICEF. It enables us to see things with our own eyes and get a proper understanding of the situation. It’s very clear that all the work done by IKEA and other development partners is changing things for the good here in Burkina Faso. Families and teaching staff are more aware of the issues, and the children are more involved, all of which is great to see.

What has made the biggest impression on me is the motivation of the children at school. This whole approach has made the children more receptive and responsive. Some of them are now able to express themselves without fear, especially now corporal punishment has been banned in Burkina Faso’s primary schools. Children’s rights are taught at school. We had the opportunity to see that in action in a class.

I find it impossible to convey all my emotions, but I hope you get an idea of how great this trip is. It’s great to see how committed the teachers are to giving the children a good education, in spite of having so few resources. Especially when you see that some of the children’s parents cannot read or write themselves. It’s sad to say, but most of the parents here in rural areas are illiterate. They’ve never been to school. But you see their spirit, their motivation, their enthusiasm. It’s very important to them that their children go to school. They also try to convince the parents who don’t want to send their children to school. You hear from parents that the whole family adopts the good habits the children learn at school, so it’s great to know that all that work is gradually having an effect.

We also saw that, while the children are very enthusiastic and eager to learn, they are desperately short of resources. Especially school supplies. The supervisors don’t have enough equipment either. The school furniture is in poor condition. But that does not stop the children from working hard. They are determined.

Most of the children have to walk up to 3 miles every day to get to school. The challenge now is to open more schools to cut down on those distances. And to fill them, because simply setting up a school is not enough. Education is not compulsory in Burkina Faso. UNICEF, the government representatives (including the mayors) and parents of children enrolled in school have all worked to raise awareness in their community and encourage other parents to enrol their children.

As a result of the Soft Toys for Education campaign at all IKEA stores around the globe, these education programmes can be continued for all the world’s children.

    Zinta Kakou