Elizabeth Boorman September 1, 2014

The third edition of the Benin Summer School is in full swing! But what is the Summer School all about? And who are the students our Materialise volunteers are working with?

I Proudly Introduce You to the Summer School in Benin!

The Summer School in Benin is a place where two Materialise employees work with Beninese students over the course of four weeks to develop individual projects that will have a positive impact on the local community. These students learn about agricultural, transportation and medical issues as well as develop project management and entrepreneurial skills and the three top students will receive a scholarship to continue their education in engineering, medicine or economics. This summer school is very near and dear to Materialise and is one reason why we host the Run for Benin fundraiser every year.
 

Pascale is working on some projects with the students.
Pascale is working on some projects with the students.


All about the Students

Week 1 was intended to start with 16 students after they passed their baccalaureate exam. However, due to teacher strikes in the country, only eight of the students knew that they had definitely graduated high school with the other 8 still left unsure. But that did not stop the school from going on: Euloge, the local collaborator for the Summer School, called around to a few local schools and on the first day Materialise CEO Fried Vancraen and Materalise volunteers Jamie Milas and Pascale Notte were greeted by 30 eager students, all who found out they had passed the baccalaureate exam.
 

Our summer school in full force. Jamie, Euloge and Fried are leading the class.
Our summer school in full force. Jamie, Euloge and Fried are leading the class.

We were thrilled to have so many young people that were excited to come to the Summer School, but this made it even more difficult for the instructors to select 8 students after two days to continue on for the rest of the session. Therefore, immediately on this first day Fried, Jamie, Pascale and Euloge began talking and engaging with the students to identify the most active, social and intelligent pupils. On the second day, the scholarship recipients from the previous two years came to work with the students while the instructors interviewed each student individually.

Here are the scholarship recipients from the past 2 years.
Here are the scholarship recipients from the past 2 years.

The 6 students that received scholarships after participating in the Summer School in 2012 and 2013 talked about their university experience, their studies and their lives.  It is amazing to see the difference between those students and those that were just beginning Summer School: they spoke loudly and clearly, presented confidently and answer all of the students’ questions.  Clearly the Summer School program re-enforces the Materialise value of Personal Growth! And a thanks goes out to Materialise volunteers, Karim Chellaoui, Rob Truyens and Jamie, who prepared them so well during the previous programs.

After starting the week with 30 students, there are now 8 that have been selected to continue on to our second week to work more on their projects. Here is a photo of the selected 8 along with the local collaborators and Materialise volunteers and CEO at Baobab Express's headquarters.
After starting the week with 30 students, there are now 8 that have been selected to continue on to our second week to work more on their projects. Here is a photo of the selected 8 along with the local collaborators and Materialise volunteers and CEO at Baobab Express's headquarters.

By the end of the second day, the Summer School instructors had the tough decision of selecting who would continue for the remainder of the period. This is a particularly heavy task given the enormous impact on the lives of these young people.  At the end, there was an even split and the group ended-up with 4 boys and 4 girls, which gave an unexpected positive result for gender equality, without positive discrimination in the selection process. The instructors were pleased to see more girls than in the previous years. Now each student can really start working on their own individual project and the instructors are thrilled to work with them on projects ranging from agriculture to medicine to transportation and teach them project management skills. Check back later this week to see part two of our blog where we highlight some of the student’s projects.  

Find out more about the Benin Summer School on our website!