The year 2019 marked a new era in education for BFI. After receiving a $125,000 grant from The Patrick J. McGovern Foundation (PJMF), we were able to convert four of our library containers into IT Think Tanks, where students could learn a multitude of IT skills, including:
- Keyboarding, Internet browsing and emailing
- Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Access
- Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere, and Audition
- HP online courses on Social Entrepreneurship and Success Mindset.
Kirundi, Swahili, and French are the three main languages used in Burundi, but as members of the East African Community (EAC), it is vital that Burundians learn English, the EAC’s designated language. Doing so allows Burundians to fully participate in the political, economic, and social aspects of this organization. BFI English Clubs provide a free learning environment, and access to technology and books so that anyone may participate and learn to speak, read, and write in English. These skills greatly expand job opportunities and provide a foundation for future economic, business, and agricultural growth across Burundi. They help native Burundians to connect with the global community and develop self-sustaining opportunities.
The first BFI English Club began in 2011 with 35 students, led by three Burundian volunteer teachers. Today, we serve over 50,000 students in all 18 of Burundi’s provinces.
Over the next two years, the McGovern grant will help us scale our Beginner English Clubs by adding 200 new clubs throughout the country.
But it doesn't stop there! Thanks to the U.K. Embassy, we will also add 9 Intermediate level English Clubs!
Access to English language print resources is important for Burundians who are learning English. BFI pledged to provide 40,000 English language books to Burundi’s universities, schools, and English Clubs. Thanks to support from donors and our partnership with Books for Africa, we surpass this goal! We are proud to announce that we have donated more than 130,000 books to date, allowing the development of 121 secondary school libraries.
After noting that Burundians commonly convert shipping containers into shops, BFI decided to transform the containers we used to ship English language books to Burundi into libraries. We currently have five completed libraries, and another container is in the process of being converted. We are now upgrading these libraries by adding information technology, and establishing a library system with librarians, security, Wi-Fi, and restrooms.
Library models of sustainability for the future by establishing a library system with librarians, security, wifi, restrooms, and safety – a place to read, learn and have access to computers.
In 2014, Aime Ndayirukiye was introduced to the sound of a violin through a TED talk shown to him by BFI Executive Director, Julie Marner, while in Burundi. Already musically gifted as a keyboard player and singer, Aime enthusiastically embraced the opportunity to learn all about the beautiful instrument. Julie’s friend, Susanna Han, director of the San Diego Suzuki Heritage Center, began volunteering for BFI and providing weekly violin lessons via Skype.
Aime is currently completing Suzuki level five. He has also instructed 12 other young adults and children on violin. BFI also has a student learning cello and a flute is already in Burundi to add to our ensemble. BFI hopes to create Burundi’s first orchestra.