Associates in Research & Education for Development (ARED)
Country Profile: Senegal
|Poverty (Population living on less than US$1 per day):|
French (Wolof, Peul, Sérère, Mandingue, Soninké, Diola and Manjaque are recognised regional languages)
|Total Expenditure on Education as % of GNP|
|Access to Primary Education – Total Net Intake Rate (NIR)|
|Total Youth Literacy Rate (15-24 years)|
|Adult Literacy Rate (15 years and over, 1995-2004)|
|Programme Title||Associates in Research & Education for Development (ARED)|
|Implementing Organization||Associates in Research and Education for Development Inc|
|Language of Instruction||Pulaar and French|
|Date of Inception||1990–|
Associates in Research & Education for Development (ARED) focuses its activities on northern Senegal. It has established links with a highly active grassroots initiative to promote literacy in Pulaar (also known as Fulfulde), which is the mother tongue of many of the area’s inhabitants and is spoken by more than 25 million people across the Sahel.
ARED is dedicated to developing reading and learning materials in African languages. Materials are first written in Pulaar, in order to assess whether or not they match the needs and levels of new literates. After this, they are adapted to other dialects of Fulfulde, other West African languages or translated into French.
ARED was created in 1990 in order to publish books for new literates and help other programmes in their training activities. It does not implement literacy programmes of its own, but instead responds to requests for training courses and books from local associations, other NGOs and bi-lateral projects. It aims to go beyond the provision of basic and functional literacy materials by producing complex materials – centring on local law, the impact of development projects and the development of a civil society, amongst others – as well as providing reading materials in the form of novels, poetry, history and compendiums of local knowledge. ARED is also one of the few publishers in West Africa that produces books that encourage reading for pleasure, enabling new readers to identify with the story and the characters rather than see reading as a means of learning something new. It currently responds to requests for materials from organizations in Senegal, Mali, Benin, Burkina Faso and Niger.
ARED’s main objectives are to:
- test and publish learner-centred training materials in African languages for the growing non-formal education sector;
- mobilise human resources within the community to take charge of their own systems of education, as well as train them for this task, thereby placing control over education into the hands of the community;
- provide support to existing programmes in the field;
- provide culturally-relevant books which people enjoy reading, thus reinforcing their ability to use the written word by emphasising the connections between culture, language, reading and education; and
- provide current information and analytical tools through books and training which help individuals and community groups to analyse their situation, become more proactive, make informed choices and plan appropriate responses.
The programmes supported by ARED focus on developing basic literacy skills, leadership and organizational capacities and providing information on citizenship and civil society so that people can make informed choices and reach their own goals through increased access to education and information. ARED also provides some of the tools needed for change and action at the community level by continuously developing curricula which address the tasks that all adults undertake – be they leaders, decision-makers, elected officials, groups advocating for change, or simply citizens trying to meet the needs of their families.
ARED seeks ways to incorporate marginalised groups into an educational process that meets their needs as busy working adults. These groups include:
Adolescents who have not had the opportunity to start or complete primary school education. ARED strives to provide this group with «basic education» (equivalent to, but not limited to, primary school education).
Women who have been unable to attend school, and whose busy working lives do not permit them to attend formal school on a regular basis.
Marginalised social groups (e.g. minority ethnic groups/language groups) who are often not adequately integrated into decision-making processes.
Community organizers and leaders who need to be better prepared to assume their roles and responsibilities.
ARED has already tested and developed training courses and materials on a variety of topics. Community associations are free to choose the topics that best meet their needs. All of the existing topics listed below include one or more books in the local language.
Literacy and maths skills – Local literacy teachers are required to take three courses, each lasting 90 hours. These teachers then go on to teach a minimum of one 300-hour programme in their communities.
Negotiated conflict resolution – A 100-hour training course that enables participants to identify and analyse conflicts (especially those between herders and farmers in the Sahel), and achieve a win-win outcome. It also covers the process of mediation in depth.
Civil society – ARED has developed several modules, each lasting between 35 and 70 hours, to reinforce the role of civil society, especially in rural and/or poor areas of Senegal. These modules include an explanation of land tenure law, the forestry code, the new rural code, the role of locally-elected officials, the rights and responsibilities of citizens and the role of the three branches of government (executive, legislative and judiciary).
Participatory analysis of local conditions – This visual method, originally referred to as a «rapid rural appraisal» and now more commonly known as a «participatory rural analysis»(PRA), is a means of bringing together community groups to analyse various issues of importance. ARED organises a number of training courses lasting between 35 and 70 hours each to help groups work together to study environmental issues, learn about the interaction between families and the community, investigate livelihood sources, etc.
Organization building – In the rural Sahel today, hundreds of local associations are being created to address community issues. To support this process, several training courses of 35 to 70 hours each have been developed, helping community groups learn how to create an association, identify the legal implications involved, write budgets, manage and run a community centre, and so on.
Pastoralism – A 100-hour training course covering the most relevant and topical aspects of herding in the Sahel today, including an analysis of the existing system of herding, the concepts underpinning development projects and legislation from all of the Sahelian countries.
HIV and AIDS – While many HIV and AIDS programmes focus on the disease itself, and/or the care of those suffering from it, ARED offers a 35-hour training course which focuses on bringing community members together to discuss the social practices which ignore or promote the spread of the disease, and identifying ways in which community groups can come together to face their social responsibilities.
Culture, literature and indigenous knowledge – For a person to develop fully, it is crucial that the value of their own cultural knowledge systems receive official recognition. ARED offers 20-hour training courses to enable the publication of 25 books comprising works of literature, historical accounts and overviews of local knowledge systems.
Teaching and Learning Approach
Training activities vary in length (from 20 to 100 hours) and are carried out in local communities, both rural and urban. Although each training activity is accompanied by a book in the language in which the course is being held, it is not assumed that everybody attending the training courses is literate. There is a deliberate attempt to bring together a mix of community members; including youth (aged between 15 and 30) and adults (aged between 30 and 70), men and women, literate community members and those who are unable to read and write. This mix of participants is crucial for both the sharing and the storing of information and since classes are learner-centred, they depend on participants’ sharing of knowledge and experiences.
ARED programmes provide participatory, learner-centred education in African languages to both individual learners and local communities. Literacy materials interwoven with RRA (rapid rural appraisal) tools have been developed for learners who cannot attend literacy classes on a regular basis, so that they can learn at home, at their own pace. All books and training provisions are designed to bring various members of the community together so that they can analyse and respond more effectively to the situations with which they find themselves confronted. ARED’s aim is not to «teach», but to create an environment in which people can communicate and share knowledge with each other while learning new and relevant information.
Since 1992, over 150 titles have been edited, 800,000 books sold, and more than 450 training courses carried out, attended by more than 9,000 participants, future literacy teachers and/or community activists.
«We are fortunate to work in a context where the community sees the value of Pulaar literacy. However, our ‹gift› back to others is to demonstrate how the community can be involved, the importance of having culturally-relevant materials (not just functional materials) and how far a new literate can go in his or her learning after only a few hundred hours of training.»
Sonja Fagerberg-Diallo (ARED)
It is important to note that Pulaar language education can be introduced in such a way that the community becomes an actor in the process of defining the form, role and value that it should take. The key element in this process appears to be the cultural resonance that education in Pulaar has found. Consequently, the pursuit of education is no longer associated with cultural alienation, as is so often the case with formal education in French. Instead, it is seen as both a valuable contribution to local development initiatives and a means of preserving culture that integrates new ideas into existing social and intellectual systems. Hence, the key to ARED’s success lies in the link that it has forged between cultural identity and literacy. Because training course participants become more knowledgeable citizens and are better able to work together, they are in a position to play a key role in their communities. They may choose to join and contribute to a community association or lobby for interests that are all too often ignored. Alternatively, they may succeed in making the voices of marginalised people, such as women, heard in community groups.
It is striking that participants do not view literacy classes or training courses as a set of mechanical skills or information that must be learned, but rather as a process of empowerment made possible by the exchange between participants, and between the self and the written word.
ARED is continuously looking to establish good partnerships. It is this network of like-minded individuals that allows it to strengthen its capacities, reach more learners and be more productive.
Participants have written to ARED to explain how it has improved their lives. Here are some excerpts from their letters:
«Learning to read woke me up.»
«Having learned to participate in a class, I now dare to work in a group.»
«I can now stand in the middle of a group and speak my mind.»
«I learned that men and women can be equal when they work together.»
«Learning to read has made me a more humble and forgiving person.»
«Knowing myself, I can now be more open to others.»
«I now know my own mind, and refuse to be tricked.»
«In the past it was always French-speaking experts who came to tell us what to do. Now is it our own children who are helping us analyse our situation.»
Four types of funding are available:
Income from the sale of books, which covers more than 50 percent of printing costs.
Local participation in the cost of training.
Grants from long-term (6-10 years) partners who support the programme’s vision, core costs and specific activities.
Income for services provided.
Awa Ka Dia
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Dakar - Liberté
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Last update: 12 April 2011