I’m 24-years old, born and raised in Yopougon, Côte d’Ivoire. While working on my master’s degree, I developed an interest in education. My classes were interactive, where students worked on team projects to propose solutions to issues we noticed in some communities. I started to dream about an inclusive and interactive education system in Côte d’Ivoire that would create generations of problem-solvers rather than jobseekers.
To give back to my community after my master’s and to gain more experience in education, I started to teach part-time at my former university. With my first salaries, I could set up Centre Eulis.
Centre Eulis is an educational space aiming to help kids discover the world through books, outings, and educational workshops. We opened in April 2017 and currently have approximately 1,500 books.
I created it to provide an open learning space to the people of my neighborhood. Yopougon is mostly known for its bars and other drinking spaces, but it lacks spaces where kids can continue to learn after school. I want Centre Eulis to be that place where they will love to be and to learn.
Broadening horizons and a book collection
I’ve been lucky to have many people supporting me during this journey. My dad provided me with the space for the library and I only had to renovate it.
Collecting books hasn’t been a challenge. As a blogger, many people already knew my love for books. So as soon as I posted online about the library, I received many books from individuals and organizations.
In a world that is always changing, sitting in class and attending lectures is not enough
The main challenge was to get people to actually take advantage of the resources and read. We decided to focus on students in primary schools and high schools in the area, and organized sessions of street readings to promote the library.
We currently have an average of 20 visitors every day but aspire to more. In our first year, we had about 600 unique visits. And we recently organized a two-week summer camp during which 23 kids participated. We also organized outings to the cinema and museums to get kids out of their environment and learn new things. It’s amazing to see kids invite their friends, brothers and sisters to read at the library.
Skills for brighter futures
I think the younger generations need to acquire critical thinking skills and a love for learning. In a world that is always changing, sitting in class and attending lectures is not enough. They need to go out and look for additional information and adapt to every situation. We also need to encourage them to be change makers in their communities. We need to spur their curiosity and help them have open minds.
And that’s what we aim to do at Centre Eulis. My objective is to have a center like this everywhere in Côte d’Ivoire and Africa where it’s needed.
To the young people reading this who want to make a difference, the most difficult step will be the first: moving from ideas to action. Obviously, it’s important to plan and to have an idea of what exactly you want to accomplish. But don’t spend too much time thinking about it, because you’ll have to make many adjustments once you start.
And don’t wait for millions before starting to impact your community, start with what you have. You could volunteer for already existing organizations that are doing similar things, learn from them, and get started.
Tchonté Mireille Silue, (24) is a blogger, professor and passionate reader.
In April 2017, she opened Centre Eulis, an educational space aimed at helping kids discover the world through books, outings and educational workshops.