PROJECT TYPE: Secondary School

PROJECT PARTNERS: Giving Africa, Association Evangélique d’Appui et Développement (AEAD)

ENGINEERING PARTNERS: Michael Hadi (Structural), Max Fordham (M & E)

STATUS: Completed in 2014. We are currently carrying out an evaluation of the social and economic impact of the new school as well as performance of the building itself, in terms of environmental comfort and durability of the building fabric.

What it’S about:

Burkina Faso in a landlocked country in West Africa. It is economically poor and has been confronted with many challenges, such as frequent military coups soon after independence, recurring droughts and high rates of HIV/AIDS. This is reflected in its Low Human Development Index of 0.423 which puts it in 183rd position out of 189 countries (2018). While children are expected to receive schooling for eight to nine years, the actual average number of years of school attendance is two for boys and one for girls.  There are few secondary school places in the country as a whole and none in some rural regions. Attending secondary school is a privilege: less than 12% of boys and 6% of girls receive any secondary education.

The Bethel School in Gourcy was one of the few places where 450 children could attend secondary school but prior to construction of the new campus it was severely overcrowded with 4 children sharing a single desk in many classrooms. The existing two-storey concrete buildings were dark and very hot. We teamed up with Giving Africa and the local mission AEAD to design and build five new classrooms, three vocational teaching spaces, as well as outdoor teaching space, a library, latrines and changing rooms for sports. The new construction increased the school places from 480 to 1000. The new buildings have been designed to make indoor spaces comfortable despite the harsh climate which sees 45˚C temperatures in summer. They all have tall louvered windows for cross-ventilation; a double roof is angled and oriented to catch the prevailing breezes and cool the space above the classroom ceiling. Roof overhangs also shade the exterior walls to minimise heat gain; the result is a comfortable space for teaching and learning.

Grant Smith, a long-time supporter of Article 25 and an award winning architectural photographer, visited Gourcy to see the finished school in action. This video of his trip captures students and teachers’ thoughts on the new buildings.


Double roof angled and orientated to catch prevailing breezes and keep the classrooms cool

Outdoor teaching area