It is a pleasure for me to be here today and see so many students! First, I would like to thank Mr. Isidore Kini for the invitation to today’s inauguration. The United States Embassy in Burkina Faso has a strong partnership with the University Aube Nouvelle who hosts the American Language Center. A year-and-a half ago we handed the Embassy –run American Language Center to University Aube Nouvelle in Ouagadougou. They brought it to Bobo Dioulasso, something the Embassy could not have done, and now provide an opportunity for many more students to improve their English.
This is what we call a public-private partnership; when government and private industry work together to reach a mutual goal. They share the delivery of a service for use of the general public. This year, the United State Embassy provided the American Language Center in Ouagadougou with an English Language Fellow, who is helping to improve their website, teach classes, and work on some specialized curriculum. We donated ten SMARTBOARDS, a type of interactive electronic chalkboard to assist Aube Nouvelle teachers bring the latest technology in their classrooms here in Bobo. We’ve also contributed some English language materials. Schools and NGOs cannot rely on government money alone to support their activities. Neither can the population expect all services to come from the government. The best solution is to find ways to cooperate and work together.
Bringing people together is what Virginia Estelle Randolph did from 1900 to 1958. Ms. Randolph’s innovative teaching techniques became the model for education in the southern part of the United States. Born of slave parents, she started teaching at the age of 16. She combined academic instruction with lessons on cooking, weaving, and gardening. She created a technical high school and purchased land, on her own, to build a dormitory for thirty female students. Ms. Randolph was committed to a practical education that prepared young people to work and contribute to society.
As Ms. Randolph knew, an education goes far beyond 2+2= 4. It is about learning to think critically and developing habits of good citizenship. To the ministry of Education and teachers present today, I applaud you. You have a tough job (and I know, because I too taught for a while.) However, your students may forget your names, but not your lessons. And chers etudiants, be involved in your communities more than attending classes. Take the time to form clubs and associations and sports teams. Do things that help your community. And, for those old enough, don’t forget to register to vote.
Elections are the primary way that you can be involved in shaping the future of Burkina Faso.