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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
This article "Education nationale : Bientôt des tablettes électroniques dans nos écoles" caught my eye on ereaders coming to Burkina:

L'une des innovations, selon Koumba Boly/Barry, sera l'introduction prochaine de tablettes électroniques dans les salles de classe pour y remplacer les livres scolaires. Bientôt donc, les élèves auront des manuels électroniques à la place des livres d'Histoire, de Mathématiques ou de Géographie en langues nationales, en français et en anglais, a expliqué le ministre en charge de l'Education. L'introduction de cet outil technologique qui sera gratuit avec l'appui de la diaspora burkinabè, de la BAD, de la Banque mondiale et de l'UNICEF, connaîtra une phase expérimentale dans des écoles et centres d'alphabétisation afin de mieux déterminer ses caractéristiques, notamment la résistance et la facilité de lecture.
According to the article, it will all be funded from grants and so not cost the government anything. Hmmm.... really?  And why not fund libraries first? Hmmmm....

I loved this comment:

Avant les tablettes électroniques, construisez d'abord des écoles. Dans une classe de 150 élèves avec 30 tables. Comment utiliser les tablettes. Mieux, il faut se rappeler que le burkina ne se limite pas à Ouaga seulement. Il ya des chefs de départements qui n'ont pas encore d'électricité et des écoles sous paillotes. N'en parlons pas des villages.
Donnez nous des écoles et des table-bancs. Pour les tablettes, il faut attendre en 2030. A moins que ces tablettes soient destinées aux enfants des ministres. Mais il parait qu'ils ne sont inscrits au faso ;

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

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

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?

Interesting Article about Education in Africa

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I came across an article called "Education in Africa." The author criticizes efforts to importing the western education model to Africa.

I'm not quite sure I agree with the author because underlying the author's argument seems to be the idea that Africans are stupid. Also, I'm hesitant to read anything entitled "Education in Africa." Like it's one homogenous chunk of land instead of 50+ distinct countries. When was the last time you read an article entitled "Education in North America"??

The author is completely off on several points.For example, he says, "The high drop out rate of pupils in African schools is a symptom of the underlying problem of boredom." Which, as a former teacher in the Burkinabè school system, I can attest is NOT at all true. Most kids drop out of school because they're parents can't pay for it anymore or they don't see the value in it because the kid is more useful in the fields.

Not to mention: "In Africa, education remains an abstract and unfathomable concept, neither easily nor conveniently appreciated nor applicable - a wasteful endeavor that should never have been embarked upon in the first place." I mean, from reading the rest of the article, I see what he's trying to say. But a wasteful endeavor? Really, homie?

At the crux of the matter, though, the author does have a good point. That education, like many things in Africa, was imported directly from western countries without a through to cultural or circumstantial adaptation. In 4ème (8th grade), one of the first lessons in S.V.T. (Life Sciences) is learning the parts of a telescope. How can you possibly test a group of kids who have never seen a telescope, even on television (because in village, there is none!), on it's different parts and what they do? You're really just setting them up for failure.

I think this is one of the things that FAVL does well, though. I feel like by putting books by African authors in our libraries and having activities about relevant topics like malaria and handwashing, we help get people interested in learning and reading. Because if those things aren't relevant to a reader's life, they won't have any interest in learning.  

Geoges Gnoumou : "Moi je suis forestier..."

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A reader visits Dounko in the FAVL office in Burkina Faso:

Le samedi 05 mai 2012, visite de George Gnoumou, Sergent des eaux et forêts, au siège de FAVL. 

favl-reader-georges-gnoumou.jpg"Après avoir arrêté mes études en classe de seconde au lycée Provincial du Tuy en 2007 moi et mes deux camarades avons fait de la bibliothèque de Bereba notre lieu de recherche et de préparation aux concours. Ceci faisant, nous trois avons réussi aux concours de la fonction publique. Moi je suis forestier, l'autre Agent technique de l'agriculture et le troisième est enseignant du primaire dans la province des Balle. La bibliothèque reste et restera dans ma mémoire et je souhaite que mes frères et sœurs en milieu rural font comme nous. La lecture est ma passion actuellement. Au nom de mes camarades je remercie tous les donateurs de même que ceux qui œuvrent pour la réussis des élèves en milieu rural grâce à la lecture. Les mots me manquent car celui qui ta donné le savoir ne peut pas être oublié dans ta vie. Que Dieu accorde à chacun d'eux longévité et surtout le succès dans leurs services ou dans leurs activités rémunératrices afin de soutenir l'éducation complémentaire en milieu rural."
A film review by Elisée:

Le Burkina Faso a certainement été le pays qui a ressenti le plus grand coup de la crise en Cote d'Ivoire. Avec le retour de près de 600 000 ressortissants, fuyant la guerre et la ''xenophobie'', le Burkina Faso a dû faire face à bien de difficultés pour la réinsertion de ceux-ci.

Après L'urgence, un film documentaire des réalisateurs Kollo Daniel Sanou et Jean Claude Frisque, retrace les difficultés causées par la crise ivoirienne sur la scolarité et l'éducation des enfants burkinabè revenus massivement de la Cote d'Ivoire. C'est un excellent documentaire qui permet de comprendre les stratégies mises en place, non seulement par les autorités mais aussi par la société civile burkinabè afin d'apporter un début de solutions à ce problème ; malgré un contexte scolaire déjà difficile dans ce pays. A voire !

Consequences of the Ivory Coast Conflict on Education in Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso has certainly been the country that felt the biggest blow from the crisis in the Ivory Coast. With the return of nearly 600,000 nationals fleeing the war and "xenophobia," Burkina Faso has faced many difficulties with their reintegration.
"Apres L'Urgence," a documentary film directed by Daniel Kollo Sanou and Jean Claude Frisque, recounts the difficulties caused by the Ivorian crisis on the schooling and education of the Burkinabe children returning in masses from the Ivory Coast. This is an excellent documentary that provides insight into the strategies put in place, not only by authorities but also by civil society in Burkina Faso, to provide a solution to this problem, despite the country's already suffering school system. To see!

L'éducation des Filles au Burkina en 50 ans

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Interesting article about Alice Tiendrébeogo's views on girls education in Burkina Faso in 50 years (article in French) :

For my economics of gender in developing countries class we read a paper by Deon Filmer and Norbert Schady.  They analyze the effects on school enrollment of a program in Cambodia that gave scholarships to girls who were finishing primary school so that they would be encouraged to continue on to secondary school.  The grants were on the order of $45 to each student.  They resulted in increase in 20 percentage points of attendance, from about 60 to about 80 girls attending per 100 girls.  Filmer and Schady, in the working paper version I have, do not do any back of the envelope calculations, but if one does a very simple one, where if one pays the scholarship to 100 girls that means that 20 more girls attend school than would have otherwise, and one assumes that of the 20 attending 5 shouldn't be attending (i.e. they are failing, or really the value of an extra school for them is very low), so that the true positive impact is on 15 girls, then the expenditure is $4500 to benefit 15 girls, or $300 per girl per extra year of schooling. 

Our FAVL summer reading camps initially cost about $50 per student, and if replicated/scaled I presume we would get cost down to $25 per child, and these camps include meals and t-shirts, so the actual camp cost is about $15 per student per two weeks, so about $300 per student for 40 weeks.  Good to know we are in the "effect size" ballpark.  (Of course, the $5 transfers to the non-impacted girls who would have gone to school anyway are not a waste, merely a transfer, so the comparison is stacked in FAVL's favor.  ;-)

The need for libraries...

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Great video by cdpeace showing typical schools in central Sierra Leone.  Notice the lack of pretty much anything on the classroom walls.  Not a word-rich environment!

Going to secondary school has limited value in West Africa...

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Seems like a really interesting paper...

Allocation of Labor in Urban West Africa: Insights from the Pattern of Labor Supply and Skill Premiums

Authors: Dimova, Ralitza; Nordman, Christophe J; Roubaud, François

Source: Review of Development Economics, Volume 14, Number 1, February 2010 , pp. 74-92(19)


Using comparable data from five West African capitals, we assess the rationale behind development policies targeting high rates of school enrollment through the prism of allocation of labor and earnings effects of skills across the formal and informal sectors, and not working. We find that people with high levels of education allocate to the small formal sector, while less educated workers allocate to the informal sector. While high levels of education are given more value in the relatively smaller sectors of salaried employment, observed skills like education appear to be fairly unprofitable in the larger self-employment sector. The fact that only the small formal sector in urban West Africa both seems to absorb highly educated workers and provide high skill premiums may be an important reason for the observed low demand for education and high dropout rates.
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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, Peace Corps volunteer Emilie Crofton, Krystle Austin, Elisee Sare, and Monique Nadembega.

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