Associates in Research & Education for Development (ARED)

Country Profile: Senegal

Population

11,658,000 (2005 estimate)

Poverty (Population living on less than US$1 per day):

22.3% (1990-2004)

Official Languages

French (Wolof, Peul, Sérère, Mandingue, Soninké, Diola and Manjaque are recognised regional languages)

Total Expenditure on Education as % of GNP

3.5

Access to Primary Education – Total Net Intake Rate (NIR)

58% (2005)

Total Youth Literacy Rate (15-24 years)

49% (1995-2004)

Adult Literacy Rate (15 years and over, 1995-2004)
  • Total: 39%
  • Male: 51%
  • Female: 29%
Sources

Programme Overview

Programme TitleAssociates in Research & Education for Development (ARED)
Implementing OrganizationAssociates in Research and Education for Development Inc
Language of InstructionPulaar and French
Date of Inception1990–

Context

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.

Programme

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.

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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.

Objectives

ARED’s main objectives are to:

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.

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Target Groups

ARED seeks ways to incorporate marginalised groups into an educational process that meets their needs as busy working adults. These groups include:

Thematic Areas

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.

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Teaching and Learning Approach

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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.

Achievements

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.

Lessons Learned

«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)

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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.»

Funding

Four types of funding are available:

Contact

Awa Ka Dia
President
NINEA 006 3 719
Villa 3074 Amitié 1
BP 10 737
Dakar - Liberté
Sénégal
E-Mail: ared (at) enda.sn

Last update: 12 April 2011