Project to boost literacy among girls and women in Senegal

PAJEF learners in Pikine, a poor surburb of Dakar ©UNESCO/Anne Müller

UNESCO Dakar is coordinating a literacy project for girls and women in Senegal (Projet d’alphabétisation des jeunes filles et jeunes femmes or ‘PAJEF’ in French).

Senegal is one of the ten countries in Africa where over half of the adults are illiterate. The majority of these illiterates are women.

Launched in January 2012 for a two year period, the project aims to improve access to education for 40,000 neo-literate and illiterate women aged 15 - 55 years.

It offers quality literacy programmes in national languages and French using the Internet, mobile phones and CD/DVD, and opened 260 classes, in 2012, for about 4,000 illiterate women.

Classes were launched in April 2012, under the slogan "Re-write the future", in partnership with a variety of stakeholders; government, local education authorities, civil society as well as the private sector.

PAJEF supports the needs of learners in existing literacy centres as well as in new ones opened as part of the project.

The project runs in the seven regions most affected by illiteracy (Diourbel, Fatick, Kédougou, Matam, Saint-Louis, Tambacounda and Dakar).

Results obtained in 2012

  • 3,998 girls and women enrolled in the programme; 193 physical classrooms were opened; 2,300 girls and women were admitted and some tested an online learning course using an application developed together with the Coalition of Literacy Practitioners.
  • Support provided to nearly 1,000 girls facing difficulties in their schooling to prevent them from dropping out of primary school.
  • Courses made available on CD, on television, online and on mobile applications.
  • 110 teachers were trained to teach PAJEF courses and 23 regional literacy officials received training in monitoring, evaluation and management; 66 literacy coaches, 45 literacy workers, 40 outreach workers and 4 supervisors were trained.
  • Academic support was given to 794 young girls at risk of dropping out of primary school; 96 percent of girls in the programme passed their exams or were promoted to the next class while 4 percent repeated the class.
  • Of the 93 learners enrolled in the school leaving certificate exam BFEM, 84 percent passed.

A public/private partnership

The funds for this project, amounting to $750,000, were provided by UNESCO and Procter & Gamble (Always) to the Government of Senegal.

In terms of management, the National Literacy Directorate (DALN) and the National Centre for Educational Resources (NWRC) were able to test their ability to effectively manage education sector resources. Local communities were mobilized and gave substantial support to the project (in-kind donations, wage increases, and purchase of computer equipment).

Projects to start in Kenya and Nigeria

PAJEF is now being considered as a strategy for accelerating national literacy while achieving economies of scale. Following the encouraging results obtained in Senegal, UNESCO announced the extension of the project to Kenya and Nigeria.

About 38 percent of adults in sub-Saharan Africa, or 153 million people, lack the writing and basic numeracy skills they need in their daily lives.

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