Africa & The Middle East
Children at risk, Education
Preschool in Guinea-Bissau
Most children in the West African country of Guinea-Bissau do not have the opportunity
to attend preschool. Regular public schooling starts at age 7, but tends to be
inconsistent, with frequent teacher absences and school closings. School preparation is a
significant need in order for children to be able to succeed in getting an education.
In 2011, the Mennonite Church in Catel, a small town in Guinea-Bissau, decided to
use their few resources to address this problem. They started one preschool class in
the church building; over the past decade this has grown into a 3-classroom school
with more than 60 students enrolled. Students come not only from Catel but from
surrounding villages for the quality education and the kindness of the staff. Students are
taught in Creole (the local language) and are introduced to Portuguese, the language of
the public school. Most importantly, all the teachers are followers of Jesus. Bible stories
and Christian teaching are an integral part of the curriculum.
The preschool is a strategic way for the Mennonite Church to share Christ’s love
with their animistic and Muslim neighbors. Up to 80 percent of the students who
attend come from non-Christian families; the preschool experience is often their first
introduction to the gospel.
Each family pays tuition for their children to attend, but due to the economic
constraints, these fees cover only a portion of the total cost to run the school. A
donation of $100 will subsidize one student to attend the preschool for an entire year.