The Aide et Action association helps groups, organisations and governments around the world to provide access to quality education for all. The programmes are adapted to the needs of each country in which the association is active. The association is at work in 24 countries around the world. In Africa in 2010, more than 30 projects in 12 countries were implemented. This year, Aide et Action is sponsoring African participation at eLearning Africa in Tanzania. Here, Denis Ouedraogo from the organisation’s African regional office, highlights Aide et Action’s work on the African continent.
eLA: How does Aide et Action identify and select the projects which it intends to support?
The strategies differ by country. We rely on studies which evaluate the economic and political situation as well as the state of the educational system. Our priority focuses on areas where the quality of education is poor. The selection criteria vary from one country to another. We are very active on the ground in order to understand the expectations and the issues. By listening to the local communities and associations, we can evaluate their needs, and we can decide to fund projects directly or to help local players to seek out financial partners. We offer help in the form of actual companionship, and we work together over the long term.
[callout title=Aide et Action]AEA currently defines itself as an international development association which contributes to the education and schooling of more than 1.2 million children across Africa, Asia and the Caribbean.
Its aim is to advance the cause of Education for All, particularly in communities whose right to education is not upheld.
- To defend the basic right to education of all children and in particular the most disadvantaged.
- To contribute to the basic education of children in developing countries with the lowest school attendance rates. This is done by developing solutions adapted to the needs of partners (parents, teachers, local and education authorities, NGOs…) in the countries targeted by our intervention.
- To encourage community management of their own development.
- To train the teachers.
- To create a bond of solidarity between the North and South through sponsorship.
Aide et Action is financed by sponsorships, institutional financing, corporate partnerships and legacies.
Link to the Aide et Action International website: http://www.aide-et-action.org/
eLA: Can you give us an example of an initiative that you support?
In Benin, for example, we are currently putting in place a project entitled “Support for the Development of Educational Alternatives” (PADAE), which is co-financed by ourselves and the European Union. The project is operated with the support of four communities in the south of Benin and aims to “contribute to satisfying the alternative educational needs of young people and adults”. In practical terms, it promotes suitable conditions for training and apprenticeships for 1500 young people in the areas of agriculture, fish farming and craft industries, with the aim that they can become self employed. In addition, a literacy programme run in partnership with the Directorate of Literacy and Adult Education (DGAEA) and the Association TIN TUA/Burkina Faso has been set up to improve literacy levels among young people and adults, particularly women.
Once they complete their training, 100 learners from agricultural and craft centres are supported in setting themselves up in work. By the end of 2010, almost 90 people had benefited from small loans to help them get started.
eLA: How do you work with the governments?
We try to support the initiatives developed by the states but sometimes we have to go against the current in negotiations, but without causing offence. For example, in the north of Togo, there were what were called “underground schools”. Located in areas where the government had not necessarily invested, these schools were local initiatives but they did not follow the official programme at all. The communities set them up and the parents of the students clubbed together to pay the volunteer teachers who were recruited at local level. The government believed that these institutions contributed to a lowering of the educational level and the teachers’ unions also took a dim view of them. The knowledge which the children had gained was not recognised. Aide et Action decided to support the integration process for these schools. We argued with the state to make them understand that these schools have a place in the system and require real support. This was a long-winded process, and it took us more than ten years to build bridges. We have developed special training sessions to bring the teachers up to standard. The state has begun to be more receptive to our suggestions, and we consider this project a major success, in which the interaction between the “underground schools” and the system in place has been very fertile. The state now accepts these schools.
eLA: What role does ICT play in your programmes?
I have to say that ICT has yet to develop a prominent position in the programmes that we support, and this is one of the reasons that we want to become involved in eLearning Africa. We look forward to sharing our experiences and finding out what others are doing in this area. We do however already have a number of activities underway, notably in Tanzania. We are setting up the “ADEN” project (Aide au Désenclavement Numérique – Fostering Digital Development), which provides ICT training to people involved in education. The Internet centre, which has been built in Misungwi and opened in 2008, is now equipped with sanitary facilities. The aim is to make the centre more welcoming to visitors and learners and to reduce the rate of illness caused by a lack of hygiene. The Community Internet Centre, which has been operational since 2008, provides web user and secretarial services to the local population.
eLA: Thank you for your time.