Since 2009, Elaine (Canedi) Chagnon, ’77, M’82, has worked with a nonprofit she helped launch, Africa Education Partnership (AEP). The nonprofit serves beleaguered northern Nigeria, building and renovating schools, providing wells and toilets, funding security walls, and sharing materials with teachers.
Chagnon has been involved with project management and educational development, completing ten trips to Nigeria to meet with partners, determine needs and priorities, view progress, and meet with teachers to share ideas and materials. Her last trip was in April 2019, as the Covid pandemic has shut down all travel plans. Nigeria is also experiencing exacerbated problems due to the pandemic, making travel exceedingly difficult.
Africa Education Partnership’s first project began in Gusau, Zamfara, Nigeria. In an area of the country noted for religious strife and conflicts between farmers and herders, new construction for a secondary school started slowly in 2010. Now fully operational, the Graceland International School campus contains a primary building, a junior/senior building, and an exam hall with computer lab, library, teacher workroom, and administrative offices. The school population is now approaching 400. It is fully accredited and a recognized regional testing center for WAEC exams. A dormitory for girls is also currently under construction. In an area of the country where fewer than 25% of girls receive an education, the dorm will make it possible for girls to extend their education past compulsory sixth-grade level. Included in this project are a kitchen and dining hall. A boys’ dormitory will be added as funds become available.
In 2018, a second working relationship was formed with partners in Kafanchan, Kaduna State. There are seven existing schools on five different sites, and Chagnon has visited each site. AEP has funded extensive work, including renovation of an all-purpose hall and a rural school, provision of three wells, construction of staff and student toilets at each rural school site, funding for desks, shipment of mini-school buses, and more.
Fully retired from a teaching career of 35 years, Chagnon continues AEP’s work from Granby, Connecticut until she can safely travel again.
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