Located 25km from Hiré in Divo, Côte d’Ivoire, at the Apparagra Public Primary School, pupils play in the schoolyard, using the new equipment installed by the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI), with support from Barry Callebaut’s Forever Chocolate strategy and The Hershey Company’s Cocoa For Good strategy. The new playground is equipped with a slide, a merry-go-round, a swingset and two rocking horses, and is always busy.
Gnago Dalie Ben, Director of Apparagra Public Primary School, remembers the day that the play equipment first arrived. “We are in a rural area. When the playground was installed, it was the first time that many parents and children had seen this kind of play equipment. It was an attraction for everyone,” he recalled, adding that the playground has had a positive impact on the children of Apparagra. “When the playground was installed, we were happy. It has helped the children learn social skills. Children from the village, who do not attend this school, want to come and play here,” he said.
For Nanon Digo Salomon, a 9-year-old fourth grader, the playground has improved how the children entertain themselves. “Before, we used to run around the schoolyard at recess. Now that there is a playground, we come here to play with our friends...before, I didn’t know about these games. Today, my favourite game is the swing and the merry-go-round,” he said. For Danou Ange Emmanuela, a 9-year-old CM2 student, playtime is spent on one of the merry-go-round seats with her friends. “At playtime, I call my friends and we go to play. I like the merry-go-round, especially when it spins”, she told us.
Aside from the socialising aspect, the playground has helped to increase the enrolment rate for the kindergarten class. “At the beginning of the school year, I had 43 pupils. Ten pupils left because of the lack of financial means to pay for school supplies. Today, I find myself with about 60 pupils. What has helped, is the playground," said Ms Arria Séwé Sandrine, Teacher and Head of the kindergarten class. Since the installation of the playground, the school has noted that some of the children enjoy the playground so much that they don’t want to go home to their families at lunchtime. "Many children are no longer woken up by their parents to come to school. They are really motivated," she added. This is a joy also felt by the parents. As Salomon’s father Nanon David, a cocoa farmer, said, the advent of the play equipment has led to many children enrolling in kindergarten.
The new playground complements a new three-classroom school, with a headmaster's office and a block of three latrines, constructed in Apparagra in June 2022 with support from Barry Callebaut (as part of its Forever Chocolate strategy) and The Hershey Company’s Cocoa For Good strategy.