A new public primary school stands at the entrance to the village of Drissapé and is now the pride and joy of this hard-to-reach cocoa-growing community of 1412 people located 68km (48 km of which is unpaved road) from Man, in western Côte d’Ivoire.  

The school comprises a building with three classrooms, a principal's office, a school canteen, a three-room teacher's quarters, a well, and three blocks of two latrines. The structures were all built under a tripartite agreement between the Comité National de Surveillance des Actions de Lutte contre la Traite, l'Exploitation et le Travail des Enfants (CNS), U.S.-based chocolate maker The Hershey Company and the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI). The agreement aims to improve access to quality education for children living in cocoa-producing areas. To this end, 12 selected communities in Côte d’Ivoire, including Drissapé, will benefit from modern school buildings by the end of 2025. 

Mrs. Doha Malé Françoise, president of the Women’s Group for Economic Strengthening (CFREC) in Drissipé, recalls the challenges the community experienced before the construction of the new school: "We had built apatams (thatched gazebo-like structures) for the children to use as schools. When it rained or when there was a strong wind or storm, the children were not protected. They went to take refuge at home, and when they got there, their belongings were already wet. It was hard," she confided. School Director Loua Soumahoro Frédéric observes that the lack of adequate school infrastructure had also driven many teachers away from Drissapé. "From 2014 to 2020, children attended under the apatams. Several teachers were sent here, but because of the teaching conditions, they asked to be transferred," he says, before explaining the risks to which children were also exposed: "Parents found that children were not safe under the apatams, because snakes were sometimes discovered in the mornings under the benches. So parents preferred for their children to stay at home." 

This is all a distant memory now, and the construction of the new school is a source of joy for parents and enthusiastic children alike.  They say they especially like the visible blackboards: "In the old school, the blackboards were broken, you couldn't see when the teacher was writing, but my new school is beautiful. I like the cupboards and the blackboard. You can see well", said Yoro Minkapé Yvan, a CM1 pupil who promises to work hard at school.

children in school inauguration
children in school inauguration
new school canteen
new teachers' accommodation
new classroom

The formal inauguration of the Drissapé public primary school on December 18, 2023, was attended by numerous officials, including the sub-prefect of Gbonné. Also present were representatives of the Ministry of National Education and Literacy and the Conseil du Café-Cacao, among other Ivorian government institutions. Hershey’s Director of Cocoa Partnerships, Mr. Tim McCoy, pointed out during remarks at the inauguration that the Drisssapé school is the first of 12 whose construction Hershey will fund by the end of 2025 through its Cocoa For Good strategy. He also commented that "the fight against child trafficking and child labour has been led for many years in Côte d’Ivoire by First Lady Dominique Ouattara…whose long-standing commitment to children is a source of inspiration".  

For ICI’s Director for West and Central Africa, Madame Euphrasie Aka, "this infrastructure, as well as other supportive actions taken with our partners, demonstrates our determination to further protect children from dangerous work, while at the same time enabling us to boost social development."