Tin Tua - Burkina Faso

Books by bicycle

Tin Tua's self-help philosophy makes communities bloom

In Gulimancema, one of the languages spoken in eastern Burkina Faso, Tin Tua means “let’s help ourselves develop.” From the outset, Tin Tua’s principle has been to “see big but start small,” a strategy that has paid off. This NGO, which is specialized in literacy and non-formal education, has been awarded one of the 2009 UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prizes. 


Today, Tin Tua’s programmes reach some 40,000 learners every year, half of them women, across some 750 villages and hamlets of this country where the literacy rate is one of the lowest in the world at 26 per cent - and only 18 per cent for women.


Community participation is one of the hallmarks of the programme, which started in 1986. Based on needs identified by villagers themselves, Tin Tua has developed a curriculum in five local languages covering basic literacy and numeracy skills along with practical knowledge about health, hygiene, human rights, gender and farming. Facilitators follow three weeks of training to teach the programmes that run over the course of two sessions lasting between 50 and 75 days, each of 300 hours each. Learners are expected to make a financial contribution to participate. Once they have completed the full course, they can choose to continue with literacy classes in French – also developed by Tin Tua – making them eligible to sit for national exams.



Tin Tua’s greatest achievement lies in the manifold changes brought into the daily lives of villagers. The programme has enabled farmers to better manage food production at the village level, for example, by taking measures to stock cereals in order to avoid speculation in times of famine. It has trained health workers, notably in the field of maternal health. Tin Tua staff say that girls who follow the programme are less likely to accept forced or early marriage. Neo-literates produce practical reading materials, while the programme has encouraged the setting up of mobile libraries. Evaluations show that the literacy rate in villages where Tin Tua has worked is around 40 per cent – well above the national average, with a low dropout rate of 7 per cent.


Tin Tua targets youth and adults above 15 but also early school leavers between 9 and 15 years of age. According to the programme, out of 100 children in this region, only about half are likely to attend school and even less go beyond the third year. Tin Tua has developed a specific course for these children. It has also set up a method used in the country’s “satellite schools” aimed at first teaching children in their mother tongue and gradually making the transition to French. As such, it has helped to improve the overall education system and to build bridges between the formal and non-formal paths. It has enabled some 1400 youth to acquire an official national qualification as a result of following literacy classes in French.


The NGO is now sharing its experience with Benin, Togo, and Niger – all countries with low literacy rates where Tin Tua’s methods and outlook are likely to make a difference.

This information may be freely used and copied provided that any reproduction of data be accompanied by an acknowledgement of UNESCO as the source (© UNESCO ).

Back to top