Recently in Africa Category

Développer le gout de la lecture chez les tout-petits

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Rahamane écrit :

Les enfants aiment les lectures organisées par les bibliothèques FAVL. Ces séances constituent de merveilleuses aventures pour les tout-petits. Pendant ces séances de lecture chaque enfant découvrira peut-être un nouveau personnage préféré en lisant, en écoutant et en regardant les images. A la fin de chaque séance, certains enfants emporteront certainement de nombreuses histoires intéressantes à la maison.


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A friend of mine pointed me in the direction of an article that explained yet another reason why libraries and librarians are still important, especially in developing countries, despite the fact that technology is taking over the world: "Libraries are evolving and they are becoming more and more relevant because people need to navigate information. In developing countries, people don't have access to computers and the Internet at home. Libraries become knowledge hubs." So even if one day, everyone in the world gets an e-reader, we're still going to need libraries and librarians to hang around for quite a while longer.

Read the full article here.

Awesome Education Opportunity in Northern Burkina

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From the US Embassy Burkina Faso website:

On Thursday June 21, 2012, an official handover ceremony was held in Pissila, a rural community of the North Central Region of Burkina, in order to inaugurate the BRIGHT II 132 school complexes.
 
The ceremony was graced by the presence of Ambassador Thomas Dougherty of the United States, the Prime Minister Luke A. Tiao and officials from the Region.
 
The Burkinabé Response to Improve Girls cHances to Succeed (BRIGHT) Project funded by the U.S. government and implemented by USAID through a consortium of NGOs contributes to the growth of educational provision at primary school by the construction and a support to the running of 132 school complexes for girls in rural areas in 10 provinces where access levels and keeping girls in school were the lowest. As a result, in June 2012, more than 27,000 girls and boys were enrolled in BRIGHT schools and 789 new classes were built.
 
In his speech, Ambassador T. Dougherty said that "education is the cornerstone of the development of any nation" and that "girls' education in particular provides a significant return on investment".
 
The governor and the representative of the students also pronounced speeches in which they appreciated the U.S. government's friendship and efforts for girls' education and improving women's conditions.
 
After the official handover of the keys of the 132 school complexes by Ambassador Dougherty representing the U.S. government to the prime minister representing the government of Burkina Faso, the officials visited some classrooms and planted a tree to highlight this friendship.

See the whole article here
I found an interesting article this morning that talks about the role of a language barrier in development. The author wrote about something that we see everyday here in Burkina. French is the official language of Burkina. All government transactions take place in French. It is forbidden to speak local language in a Burkinabè school. Upper class people only speak in French, and view those who speak in local language as below them. While this puts Burkina in the game on a global level, it marginalizes large populations of people who are creative and motivated who could more actively participate in Burkina's national economy because they are deemed "uneducated." Realistically, it is difficult to communicate outside of your village with most local languages, but Mooré can be used almost anywhere in the country and Dioula can be used in most West African countries. So if we allow these languages into the government, schools and trade, in conjunction with French, we would encourage even more people to participate in Burkina's development, and maybe it would help alleviate some of the poverty and inequality here in Burkina.

You can find the full text of the article here.   

A girl carpenter in Burkina...What?

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An interesting slideshow on the BBCNews website. It talks about girls being servants in other people's houses (which is very common amongst the civil servant set here in Burkina). Some of these girls are lucky because they get sent to richer relatives who can pay for their schooling and provide better food. Unfortunately, others are put in horrible situations where they are taken advantage of, treated as slaves and abused. Gives you a little perspective on the tough situations girls often face when they (or their parents) are seeking a better life. Luckily, some of the girls have figured out how to break the cycle and find work as tailors or carpenters.

"One Kindle Per Child"....really?

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"Ugh!"

That was my first impression after reading this Wall Street Journal article: "An E-Reader Revolution for Africa?"

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303768104577462683090312766.html?mod=WSJ_hps_editorsPicks_3

Maybe I'm pulling a Sarah Erdman, author of "Nine Hills to Nambonkaha." While a great writer, I was  put off by her negativity towards technology that actually facilitated and empowered the lives of Africans in rural villages (complaining about the new light posts because it diminished her views of the night sky...please).

But a Kindle for every student? I think it's fair to say that the education system in numerous African countries needs improvement, but should kindles really be at the top of the list?

Maybe it has nothing to do with my pulling an Erdman, but just about how much I romanticize real books, and my reluctance to accept that kindles are the new thing.

Or maybe, I'm just jealous.

Whatever it is, I'm really curious to see how this "one kindle per child" pans out over the next few years. How effective are they? What happens when it breaks? Are students really more engaged in their school work with a Kindle? Does using it help improve a student's academic success? Anyone doing a research project on this? Michael?

Burkina/the Sahel has been making the news a lot quite recently. And sadly, it is not for good reasons. We're rolling into the time of the year that is called "hungry season" where the stores from last year's harvest are starting to run out and planting is just starting, so new crops won't be ready until around September. Even worse, last year we had a horrible rainy season and refugees from Mali have been fleeing over the border (and staying up north, a region that can ill afford to increase its population when it is often difficult to feed those who are already there). The only things that are plentiful right now are mangoes and onions, which while delicious, do not a nutritious meal make. Everything is quite expensive for even yours truly, so imagine how it is for a Burkinabè trying to feed a family of 8 or more. Almost impossible.

Thus, I was not surprised to once again run across an article about Burkina and an imminent food crisis. This time in the Huffington Post in an article called "The Forgotten Crisis: As the Hunger Season Sets in, Burkinabès Need Not Worry about Body Image." The author provides an interesting viewpoint, though, as well as some perspective for those of us in the western world. She talks about how a lot of people in Burkina do not have enough to eat while in other countries 5 year olds are being put of diets because they eat too much. As we all know, I'm not one for the "oh poor Africa" gimmicks because they provide a picture of a helpless continent that can only be saved by more "developed" countries. A Modern White Man's Burden. But this article makes you think about all the gluttonous food we consume/waste and the millions of dollars we spend every year in a fight to make ourselves thin.

I think the author misses the mark a little bit with the article. In general, Burkinabè do not have body image problems. They are proud when they have meat on their bones. She forgets that even those Burkinabè who are well-fed (like the woman who teases her friend that she is definitely not malnourished) are thought to look beautiful and healthy. Also, they are well enough off to eat well.

At the end of the day, it's an interesting article, but it leaves you wondering what the author is really saying. Just that we should count or blessings and reorganize or priorities? That we should be sending some of our waste to Burkina to feed these children? That we need to send money. She makes an awkward analogy between The Hunger Games book series and the "hunger season" in the Sahel. She just ends the article with a quote "'You see, food and time are running out,'" but offers no suggestions on what we, the audience, can do to help.


A Piece of W. Africa in SF

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Last night Elisée and I went to the Bissap Baobab in San Francisco (on 19th street) for dinner and dancing. Many of our friends-White, Black, American and African-have been recommending it to us.
We began the evening with a delicious dinner. Elisée had the "poulet yassa" and I had the "mafe" which is basically a peanut sauce. It was so good that Elisée was certain an African "Tantie" was in the kitchen, but a quick peak revealed the great chefs to be two young Hispanic men.
The setting is very tiny and intimate. The seating is a little too crowded together, but the fast service makes up for it. After dinner we headed to the bar and enjoyed hibiscus and tamarind cocktails. At around 10pm, the setting changes. One by one, as patrons finish eating, the staff quickly remove the tables and chairs, to transform the room into a small dance floor with a DJ in the back. Dancing begins immediately. The music was fantastic, a real mix of traditional and modern music from throughout Africa. Elisée was pleasantly surprised after hearing a song from the Congolese musician Awilo Longomba, a song he hadn't heard since high school.
I loved the mix of people dancing in the club. There were a lot of men and women of all colors, and definitely a lot of Africans. I still say that the best dancers on the floor were an elderly interracial couple who had to be in their mid 60s. Overall, a lot of fun, and definitely a place we'll return to.

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Feist + Hygiene lesson = Awesome music video??

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You betcha! Sit back and learn a little something with the musical stylings of Halley Brus and the PCVs who've adapted Feist's "1,2,3,4" into a catchy tune about handwashing. Enjoy!

 

 

How to install a computer at FAVL office?

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Elisee wrote:

I just had a skype conversation with Dounko in order to show him how he could install the new computer that we received from the Ouagadougou US Embassy. This would have been easier with a video but the internet speed in Burkina can not support a video conversation. So Dounko sent me photographs of all the computer parts and we began our "photo tutorial" online. The final act would have been to plug the power cable. But, there was no power cable! Next thing to do is that Dounko should go to buy this missing cable at the famous Zabré Daaga Market (being a burkinabe you can find every thing you need at this market) Our photo tutorial should continue tomorrow in order to run this desktop computer, the second in the FAVL office. Thanks to the US Embassy who gave us two computers, We will use one in our Ouagadougou office and one in our Hounde office.
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FAVL Blog

Books, reading, and libraries relevant to Africa by Michael Kevane, co-Director of FAVL and economist at Santa Clara University.

Other contributors include Kate Parry, FAVL-East Africa director, FAVL Burkina Faso representative Koura Donkoui, FAVL Burkina Faso program manager Krystle Nanema, and FAVL friends Emilie Crofton and Elisee Sare.

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