How much does it actually cost to build and run a school in some of the world’s poorest countries?
Everything comes back to education: areas that are the most overpopulated are also the poorest and least educated. Children that don’t receive an education will most likely spend a lifetime in extreme poverty, and, chances are, they will not educate their own children. So how much is the actual cost of education?
Lynn Cole, a resident of Illinois, runs RISE International – an organization that builds schools for as little as $12,000. Fueled by donations, the residents of Angola construct and run the school themselves.
In January 2003, as an attempt to raise school enrollment, Kenya’s government eliminated fees and wrote a policy that provides textbooks and notebooks to schools. While more children are in school now because of this new policy, the cost of school uniforms has sky-rocketed. Each school has its own uniform, and discharges students who are not wearing one. The average cost of school uniforms in Kenya is now $5.59 for girls and $6.10 for boys.
Similar to Kenya, formal school fees are no longer levied. However, books and uniforms now cost much more than they did previously, jumping from $1.63 per uniform to $4.22.
CO-ID (Co-Operation In Development Australia Inc.) led by Fred Hyde, builds schools in the poorest areas of Bangladesh. Donation-run, it costs $8,000 to build a charity school, and another $8,000 each year to keep it running.
In the village of Butembo, about 75% of the population live on less than $2 a day. The average annual school fee per child is $25-$35 for primary school and $30-$50 for secondary school, which means that for most children, school isn’t an option.
A school without an educated teacher benefits no one, meaning that teachers are often a school’s largest expense. To sponsor a teacher through the basic Liberian Teacher Training costs $120. To provide latrines for a school costs $500. The cost of 3-days residential teacher training for 60 teachers is $1,000. Aside from their training, the materials used by teachers also cost more than what is used by students. The books to teach a child for one year cost $8; a mathematics or science text book for one teacher costs $15.
Through the organization Building Schools for Africa, ten sets of school uniforms cost about $67; the tools and seeds for a school farm run at about $225; textbooks for ten children cost $250; it takes $1,000 to build new toilets; installing drinking water is roughly $1,671; a new classroom costs an average of $6,686.
A school that can offer its students at least one meal a day had an increased likelihood of maintaining its enrollment because some students aren’t fed at home. Feeding a school of 580 for 60 days costs $730.
A month of education for a child is attained by $10; $120 educates a child for a year; $710 stocks a primary school library; $955 stocks a secondary school library; $1,340 educates a child from KG-Grade X (11 years); $7,775 equips a computer lab; $180,500 supports an entire school for a year.
This demonstrates how much can be done with just a little funding, and how much more complicated running a school is after the initial construction. Contrary to Oprah Winfrey’s extravagant donation-budget, it doesn’t take $40 million to build a school. Sometimes the school already exists and it’s the teacher or the pencils that are missing. Sometimes schooling is available, but children can’t attend because they haven’t been dewormed.
Building a school is the easy part. The hard part is getting parents to send their kids, getting materials like paper, chalk as well as textbooks out to rural areas and maintaining a level of education that prepares student to be future leaders in their community.
– Lydia Caswell