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WNN Learning!

Young woman at blackboard in Senegal literacy class

A young soon-to-be mother in Dakar, Senegal points to words on a blackboard during a literacy class designed for women and girls. This program has been co-sponsored by UNESCO with the corporation Proctor & Gamble. Computer-based classes in literacy is also set to be part of the program. Image: UNESCO

(WNN/UNESCO) Dakar, SENEGAL, WESTERN AFRICA: All classrooms of the Literacy Project for Girls and Women in Senegal (PAJEF) will soon be equipped with a digital kit consisting of a laptop, an interactive beamer (pointer), an infrared stylus touch pen to write directly on the digital board, as well as adapted software.

UNESCO’s Regional Office in Dakar will shortly receive 200 digital classroom kits from the “Sankoré” programme, a joint partnership for education between the GIP ENA (a public interest group for digital education in Africa), the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and UNESCO Dakar.

A Memorandum of Understanding was signed on the May, 16th (2013) between Professor Albert-Claude Benhamou for the GIP ENA, Jean-Marc Châtaigner for the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Ann Thérèse Ndong-Jatta, director of the Regional Office for Education in Africa (BREDA) of UNESCO, to define the conditions of the “Sankoré” programme’s support to the literacy project PAJEF.

The digital kits will be used in the teaching and training of illiterate girls and women, as well as the 3000 newly literate beneficiaries of PAJEF who will now start to learn computer skills.

Improve the impact

“This is a way to improve the impact of PAJEF, as ICT [- Information and Communication Technology] skills are vital in today’s society, and it greatly motivates girls and women to learn,” says Saip Sy, who is working on the PAJEF project in UNESCO Dakar. “We are convinced that these kits will make the literacy classrooms much more efficient as they enhance the teachers’ teaching abilities. This is already happening in formal education” he adds.

PAJEF started in January 2012 and aims to reach out to 40,000 neo-literate and illiterate women aged 15 – 55 years in Senegal. The principal target is the seven regions most affected by illiteracy (Diourbel, Fatick, Kédougou, Matam, Saint-Louis, Tambacounda and Dakar). It runs until the end of 2013.

While the digital kits are a way to make ICTs become a reality in these often remote villages, we also have to deal with several challenges, says Sy.

They include:

  • Integrating ICTs in current teaching and training processes
  • Training teachers in the specific software and improve their teaching abilities
  • Using local languages in the ICTs,

The digital kits will be introduced in the formal schools as well and will hence be used both in formal schooling and in the literacy classes from now on.

Improved efficiency

The software “ Open Sankoré” and the different components of the digital kits are great tools for teachers. The kits are simple to use and manage and teachers can instantly adjust their teaching. For example they can directly make comments and underline their lesson on the digital board, add pictures, videos, etc, and adapt teaching according to the progression of the learners.

Moreover, through the introduction of these digital kits, learners should gain knowledge more easily through greater participation. Everyone can intervene during the class and interactions hence become one of the principal components of the lesson.

TV programmes in the classrooms

An additional advantage is that thanks to a partnership with Senegal’s national TV station RTS, several news and education programmes will be made available in the classrooms.

“This is a really important input to the PAJEF literacy programmes, as girls and women will learn not only literacy but also about such issues as nutrition, health, the environment etc.,” comments Saip Sy.

GIP ENA will deliver the digital kits to UNESCO Dakar in June 2013. A series of training session for teachers and technical teams are scheduled the following month, where the digital equipment will also be set up.

An evaluation will be carried out at the end of 2013 to analyze the efficiency of these digital kits.

The fund for PAJEF, amounting to $750,000, is being provided by the international company Procter & Gamble (“Always” program) and UNESCO to the Government of Senegal.