Marie-Anne N’Guessan came to the University of Stirling on a mission – a very specific one: to learn the skills to run her own school for underprivileged children.
It was a mission that brought her to Scotland all the way from her native Côte d'Ivoire in West Africa.
Marie-Anne was fulfilling her dream of setting up a social library where children and young adults from underprivileged backgrounds could develop their reading skills. But to make it a success, she needed to develop her own skills, namely English language teaching and management.
“I was lacking the management skills to run my centre efficiently. Stirling was the only university I found in the entire UK to offer this course, so I jumped in!” said Marie-Anne, who successfully applied for a Chevening Scholarship for her MSc Management and English Language Teaching.
Therefore, when Marie-Anne graduated this week, it was a celebration not only of her achievements, but of a school which will change lives in the African town of Bingerville.
The library uses storytelling to help young people with their reading skills, and also incorporates drawing, painting and crafts.
Marie-Anne said: “We teach English as a foreign language as a means of offering them an equal chance to have access to the globalised world we live in.
“These young people have enormous potential, but this can be missed due to their lack of opportunity to learn English resulting in poor international communication skills.”
Ninety per cent of the books in the library – from Booker Prize-winning novels to children’s classics such as The Hungry Caterpillar – were donated by two lecturers from the University of Stirling, Dr Eddy Moran, Senior Lecturer in Education Studies, and Dr Anne Lawrie, Director of MSc Teaching English as a Second Language (TESOL) programmes.
Dr Lawrie said: “This was such a worthy cause and a wonderful opportunity for all learners; we wanted to support it. We decided to donate the books that were used in one of the sessions of the module. I’m delighted to see Marie-Anne graduate and head up such an inspirational project.”
Marie-Anne, one of 2,251 to graduate this week from the University of Stirling, embraced both the in-person and virtual learning. She said: “The lecturers are passionate about their subjects and constantly look for the best way to transfer their knowledge to the students while helping them to learn independently. Stirling is a warm, beautiful, and quiet place to live and study. It was undoubtedly the best place for me to be.”