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SENEGAL: New efforts underway to educate in local languages Convertir en PDF Version imprimable Suggérer par mail
Dernière mise à jour : ( 29-12-2007 )

Ecrit par Saajo Bah, le 29-12-2007 13:53

Pages vues : 31772    

Publié dans : Les News, Langue et linguistique Pulaar

ImagePhoto: ARED/IRIN 
Informal education in Niger's Diffa Region
DAKAR, 14 September 2007 (IRIN) - With formal education systems crumbling in much of sub-Saharan Africa, educationalists are looking more to informal systems of education taught in local languages.

"Every child and adult should be able to learn in their own language, especially in the face of staggering failure rates from the French education system," said Sonja Diallo, director of Associates in Research and Education for Development (ARED), a non-profit group based in Senegal that promotes learning in African languages.
She points out that it takes about 300 hours to make a student literate and learn basic maths skills in their own languages, whereas reaching grade six in the formal system takes a total of 7,000 hours.
The type of education that people get in their own languages is also more practical. “People here have found the confidence and skills to keep accounts and organise themselves,” said Ousmane Mamadou Ba, who went through a non-formal education programme in the northern Senegalese town of Podor and now teaches in his native language of Pulaar subjects ranging from animal health to AIDS awareness.
“We've been able to improve farming in the area by teaching farmers how to get the most from their crops. And newly literate local leaders are encouraging our youth to educate themselves about Pulaar culture,” he said. “People have become really interested in reading and learning about themselves."
ARED has produced over 150 fiction and non-fiction books in Pulaar and five other Senegalese languages.
Learning in local languages has gained new impetus and was one of the issues discussed in a meeting organised by UNESCO earlier in September in Bamako to promote global literacy.
The formal system
For Diallo, who presented a paper at the conference, "[Families] sending children to formal schools is a bit like playing lottery with their lives."
"In rural areas families scrape and save to send their kids to school, knowing quite well that they probably won't make it past the sixth grade," she said. A staggering 75 percent of children fail the seventh grade entrance exam and are forced out of the system, she said.
Learning in a foreign language is a big part of the problem, she said. "What we must understand is how incredibly difficult it is for most Senegalese students to succeed in the formal system. A great number of them enter primary school not speaking the language of instruction," Diallo said.
"They are destined to fail from the start," she said.
Moreover, with massive unemployment in formal sector jobs in Africa the formal education system is teaching students skills that are not uthey need to further their lives. "It’s great for those who will make it to formal sector or urban jobs,” educationalist Molly Melching, director of Tostan, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) supporting non-formal education in West Africa, told IRIN, “but for those returning to rural communities they are left with skills they may never use."
Proponents of non-formal education are not calling for the formal education system to be replaced, but for people to be given other options. "Non-formal education is not concretely opposed to the French formal system," Diallo said.
“Instead, it provides an alternative for people who have very little chance of succeeding in a top-down system.”
The alternatives should be designed and structured by local communities, to meet local needs, the proponents say. The education programmes start with literacy in local languages and basic maths skills, and then cover human rights, gender equality, health as well as agricultural issues.
"Communities choose subjects that apply to their lives," Diallo said.
While the programmes do not lead to a degree or certificate, advocates of the system say they are crucial to community driven development.
"It gives them the tools to drive their own development, which is entirely more sustainable than any development initiative imposed from the outside," Melching said.
In Senegal the government has had a plan in place for more than a decade to revitalise the country's education system through the use of national languages and promoting local cultures.
The plan, called 'Faire-Faire' (make happen), is intended to provide community driven education outside of formal schools. It is an idea that has spread to other countries in Francophone Africa, including Burkina Faso, Niger, Mauritania and Mali.
Fary Ka, a former adviser to the Minister of Literacy in Senegal who now works as a consultant and researcher on non-formal education, has called the programme "an alternative to the failed mirage of formal education which creates civil servants, elites and intellectuals".
Yet of the 18.9 percent of the US$3 billion Senegalese state budget that goes to education only 1 percent of that is directed towards non-formal education programmes.
"It's amazing that more money is not directed towards these programmes," says Diallo. “Non-formal education plays such an essential role in levelling the playing field in Africa.”

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Tags : News, Langue et linguistique Pulaar, SENEGAL: New efforts underway to educate in local languagesliteracy, alphabétisation, langues nationales, ared, développement

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