Fifteen years ago, I spent two years in Burkina Faso for my military service. Having fallen deeply in love with the country and its people, I promised myself to return there one day in order to settle and take part in the emergence of an elite proud of its roots and prepared to face the challenges of the 21st century.
During my stay, I dreamt that poverty and corruption were not a fatality, that a quality education was not only reserved to an elite, that the young Burkinabés could be proud of their culture and that they had the potential to invent their own model of development. I had a dream that this youth could believe in itself and not expect everything from the West. I matured and nurtured this dream for all these years…
In 2008, I decided to make this dream come true. My family and I moved to Burkina Faso and I looked for a place that was fit for a school campus and dormitories. The choice fell on Ziniaré, located 20 miles away from the capital, Ouagadougou. A medium sized city (about 70’000 inhabitants), its importance has not ceased to grow since it became regional capital, shining now upon a territory of 750 000 souls. We have been kindly welcomed by the local authorities, happy to see the creation of an institution when only 12% of students in age of being in 6th grade are schooled. We acquired there a land of 3 acres that we fenced off hoping to build a middle school and a high school, i.e. 16 classrooms, two computer rooms, a library, a laboratory, an administrative building, four dorms with a sanitary complex, and a sports ground…
To this day, my dream is becoming a reality but the road is still long as constructions will continue for a decade-long period.
Unlike most school projects in Africa, we voluntarily chose to build a school of excellency. The goal is to form a new generation capable of taking future of their country into their hands, having received a solid education based not only quality teaching, but also on strong moral and ethical values. We clearly aim to participate in the emergence of a youth capable of impacting its generation and influencing the development of its country.
To do so, we gave priority to social diversity in order to bring up an inclusive generation, solidary beyond the usual social cleavages. The students are recruited based on academic results and motivation. They are selected following a written test and an interview. Therefore, part of the students come from the more affluent social classes, and come from the capital. Another part of the student body comprised of external students who come from the middle class of Ziniaré and its neighboring region. Finally, thanks to sponsorships, a third part comes from isolated villages and represents the rural class, that is to say the most disadvantaged of the country. They thus all have hope for social advancement and are conscious of their potential and the efforts necessary to make the best of it, both for themselves and their country. This ambition calls for our patience. This is why we only recruit students in 6th Grade. There is no recruiting beyond (exceptional cases aside), and we bring up our students until the “Brevet” (9th Grade) and then the Baccalaureat. They are placed in optimal studying conditions, with a limited number of students per class, functional classrooms, appropriate pedagogic equipment, and a team of teachers motivated by this challenge.
Our choice proved to be wise. After two years of existence, our 6th and 7th grade students obtained brilliant results: 87% of them successfully passed on to the next grade. They participated in the reputation of the Lycée MLK since they obtained the best results out of the 54 schools listed in the region. We are already identified as one of the model schools in Burkina Faso!