The official launch of the MCC-BRIGHT project took place on June 12, 2006 in the village of Koutoula in Sanmatenga province. Koutoula, situated 7 kms from the provincial capital Kaya, is one of 132 villages that will have a new school complex built with funding from the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). The event was attended by the population of Koutoula and nearby villages, traditional and religious leaders, government officials (including 2 Ministers and four governors, 4 Parliament members), and the staff of implementing organizations, Plan, CRS, Tin Tua, FAWE and Peace Corps.
Plan Burkina Faso Country director reading a speech at the launching ceremony
The Minister of Education, Mrs. Odile Bonkoungou, congratulated the Chief de Pikoutenga for the strong mobilization of the population for the official launch of the MCC-BRIGHT project. She described girls’ education as a “national challenge”. Mrs. Bonkoungou invited parents and the local communities to ensure not only girls’ enrollment, but also their regular attendance. The minister declared the official launch of the MCC-BRIGHT project on this day of June 12, 2006, and laid the first brick where a durable three-classroom school will be erected. The authorities attending the function were invited to plant trees, as is the custom in the land of the upright people.
School children beneficiaries of the BRIGHT project took part in the launch
The US ambassador, Mrs. Jeanine Jackson affirmed that the MCC-BRIGHT funding is an indication of the good relationship between Burkina Faso and the US government.
Mrs. Jackson commended the Government of Burkina Faso for making the choice to invest in girls’ education and recognizing that the development of the country cannot be achieved without women’s education. She emphasized the importance of girls’ education and the need for everybody’s contribution to this effort, invoking a Burkinabè saying, “one finger alone cannot gather up flour”.
Her Excellency Jeanine Jackson, US Ambassador in communion with traditional singer Habibou Sawadogo at the ceremony
In his address, Mr. Fritz Foster, Country Director of Plan Burkina Faso requested the US ambassador to convey his gratitude, and that of the people of Burkina Faso, for the 6.7 billion CFA ($12.9 Million) that will be channeled through his organization for the promotion of children’s education. Mr. Foster expressed his satisfaction for the strong commitment and the steps taken by the communities and the government of Burkina Faso to ensure a successful enrollment of children in BRIGHT classes still under temporary shelters. Almost 5,000 children have been enrolled in 70 classes in ten provinces of Burkina Faso against 3,500 expected. Fifty one percent of the enrolled children are girls.
Laying of first bricks by the Minister of Education Mrs Odile Bonkoungou, with Ambassador Jeanine Jackson and Governor Fatimata Legma (in white) looking on