U.S. Department of Defense Offers New Classrooms to Colli Students

TOFFO, November 02, 2020 – The Chargé d’affaires ad interim of the U.S. Embassy to Benin, Karen Gustafson de Andrade, inaugurated classrooms at the Colli Middle School.  The ceremony was held in the presence of the Chargée de Mission of the Prefect of the Atlantic department, Mrs. Paulette Eki, the Mayor of ToffoBibiane Adamazé Soglo, the Director of the Colli Middle School, Jean-Baptiste Gnanho, the Departmental Director of Secondary, and the Technical Education and Vocational Training Director, Edmond Houinton, along with students’ parents.  

The new facilities donated by the United States Department of Defense, valued at 128.7 million CFA, consist of three new classrooms, four latrines, a system of solar panels for lighting, and a rainwater collection system for hand washing. These new classrooms replace the original structures which were made out of hazardous materials and will help keep students close to home by eliminating their need to enroll in middle schools in neighboring villages. 

This construction project is the third in a series of six funded by the U.S. Department of Defense’s Humanitarian Assistance Program. 

The Chargé said that the inauguration demonstrated the commitment of all parties present to recognizing the essential role that education plays in the transformation of a society. “A school is more than just a building. It is a place of culture, a place of learning, and above all, a place where our children must be safe and comfortable. It is the incubator of Benin’s future leaders, its doctors, nurses, and engineers,” added Gustafson de Andrade. 

The Chargé also expressed her gratitude and appreciation to school administrators and the Parents’ Association for advocating for the interests of the students of Colli Middle School. 

Later in the day, the Chargé headed to the Public Primary School (EPP) in Colli-Gbeta to inaugurate a two-classroom module with latrines as part of the U.S. Embassy’s Special Self-Help Program. The project was brought to the Embassy’s attention by the NGO Espoir des Vulnérables. 

“The infrastructure we are inaugurating today is the result of the longstanding partnership between the United States of America and Benin to improve health conditions and create a healthy environment for all,” said Gustafson de Andrade.  The Chargé added that this project will help children to more easily maintain basic hygiene, as they will no longer need to miss class or travel long distances to use the restroom. “In the times of Covid-19, the necessity of access to hygienic facilities is even more essential,” she said. 

Built with sustainable local materials, the new buildings funded by the United States in Colli-Gbéta are intended to benefit local students for a period of at least 30 to 40 years.