Diapalante believes that in any community, there is the understanding and expertise to identify and solve many local issues. In Senegal and Mauritania, United Nations least developed countries, it is often poverty and its consequences that hold back development. Diapalante's mission is to work with our long-term local partners in Africa to enable them to create projects that bring sustainable, realistic and effective improvement to the lives of their fellow citizens. Since 2005 Diapalante has carried out community-led development projects in Mauritania and Senegal, West Africa. Our role is to listen to our long-term local partners, Diapalante Senegal and Diapalante Mauritanie respectivel... read more Diapalante believes that in any community, there is the understanding and expertise to identify and solve many local issues. In Senegal and Mauritania, United Nations least developed countries, it is often poverty and its consequences that hold back development. Diapalante's mission is to work with our long-term local partners in Africa to enable them to create projects that bring sustainable, realistic and effective improvement to the lives of their fellow citizens. Since 2005 Diapalante has carried out community-led development projects in Mauritania and Senegal, West Africa. Our role is to listen to our long-term local partners, Diapalante Senegal and Diapalante Mauritanie respectively, then through discussion and research select projects where our objectives, expertise and resources combine with theirs to produce a sustainable positive impact. Diapalante is a partnership - sharing knowledge and expertise. Where we can, in the UK and abroad, we use local volunteers but in Senegal the Diapalante Community Education Centre also employs three staff to enable the programme and a premises to function efficiently. All projects are delivered by our local partners in collaboration with the local community. These partnerships are the core of our work. We have set up a range of projects in Mauritania which now operate independently. These include a workshop and training to enable people with disabilities to earn a living making shoes and clothing, a programme implemented in several towns to address the health needs of children who live by begging on the street, and a cattle vaccination park to improve the sustainability of the livelihoods of nomadic herders. In Senegal we work with our partner Diapalante Senegal, to develop and deliver various educational projects under the umbrella of the Diapalante Community Education Centre which is located in Kaolack, one of Senegal's largest cities. The Diapalante Community Education Centre opened in 2010 as a drop-in Centre offering "Education for All" regardless of age or background. The Centre helps people gain the skills they need to succeed in education, work and life. Open in the mornings then from mid-afternoon though to 9pm the Centre allows people to attend around school, work and family commitments. The UN Human Development Index (2019) shows Senegal's population has an average of only 3.2 years of education and a literacy rate of 52% in adults. Enrolment in primary school has risen to 81% with 40% dropping out before completing primary education and 44% of children going on to enrol in secondary school. After a short initial period the teaching language in school is French (the national language) though this is no-ones mother tongue. This is a barrier to progress particularly for those children whose parents, having little education themselves, do not speak French. Diapalante addresses the great need for education and training opportunities which help children to thrive in school, give basic literacy and numeracy skills to children not in school or give adults the opportunity to gain skills useful in the workplace. The programme at the Diapalante Community Education Centre reflects both the strengths of the staff and volunteer teachers and the needs expressed by the community This year the Centre has 500 beneficiaries of which 250 attend the Centre's regular lessons and activities and an additional 250 children are in "outreach" projects. The Centre premises has a teaching yard, a small classroom, a stockroom, a computer room and a library. It is run by the Centre co-ordinator (Mamadou Kane aka Master P), assisted by two local staff, 2 British gap-year volunteers (not currently available due to COVID) and many local volunteers. The Centre's teaching programme is outlined below: Young Leaders Programme The successful teenage Young Leaders program trains young volunteers to run after-school French learning activities for small groups of primary school children. The Young Leaders grow in confidence as they gain skills in self-organisation, communication and presentation of ideas and management of others in a calm and positive manner while reaching set teaching objectives. Their commitment through the year is acknowledged in a certificate awarded annually, a greatly prized part of their portfolio illustrating to employers their skills and experience of both leadership and teamwork. Learning Boost: French after school activity primary school children Our project addresses the problem that French is the language of teaching in Senegal but not anyone's mother tongue. The lack of French skills is generally most marked in children whose parents have least education and so are less able to help their children gain the skills needed to succeed in school. This after-school project is attended by 160 primary school children. Our teenage Young Leaders each encourage a small group of children to practice their French skills while completing a variety of games, reading and craft activities. Analysis of school exam performance showed the 150 children who attended the pilot year of this after-school activity showed a significantly improved overall performance in their end of year exams by comparison with their peer group. Literacy for street children (talibes) A proportion of the children who do not enrol in primary school are talibes. These are boys who study the Koran and reside in koranic schools known as daaras. We have encountered starkly different attitudes and styles of running daaras which range from children living in the most deprived of conditions, who beg for their food and have little or no family contact, widely condemned as modern slavery, through to the modern daaras which offer education comparable with private boarding schools. This pilot programme gives talibes basic skills which help them towards a sustainable future. Sixty talibes learn to read and write in their mother tongue. They also become competent in the basics of maths and occasionally do STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, maths) activities. English With a Centre co-ordinator who is fluent in English and 2 British volunteers our project is well placed to teach English. English language skills are useful for local jobs, West African trade and international trade. English lessons are popular with adults and schoolchildren. Computer literacy Being able to use a computer is a valuable skill in the search for office work in Senegal today. This learning is available to those in the best private schools. The computer skills programme at Diapalante redresses this, giving our members the skills to take jobs where computers are used. The course follows the French curriculum for computer literacy (Brevet) and ability is assessed online. Success gives a certificate of achievement. Library We have a small library at the Diapalante Centre and this has an important role in introducing the value of books as both a learning resource and a leisure resource. Textbooks are generally shared and well-worn and book ownership is not commonplace so we are slowly building up a reference section of good copies. Other activities There are other activities and subjects which are offered by volunteers on a short or long-term basis including maths, French grammar, STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and maths), preparation for work, environmental issues, citizenship. The Centre passes surplus donated computer stock to the education authority in Kaolack. We plan to expand the Centre's outreach and activities as opportunities permit. The Diapalante Community Education Centre: Possible future plans include: 1. Ensure funding of the current projects 2. Programme for women and girls a. Explore options and need to teach reproductive health and family planning b. Research period poverty - is there a serious problem? c. Trial the acceptability of re-usable menstrual pads. d. Enterprise training: creating re-usable menstrual pads 3. A more appropriate building for the Centre The current ground floor apartment has served the Centre well but is now limiting its activities and outreach. We also work with The Hillcrest Advisory Bureau and Bursary Fund in South Africa who support the underpriviledged community within the Valley of 1000 Hills near Hillcrest in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa by providing advice and access to education. We work together to develop their support of educational access to university and vocational courses. The in-country funding of this part of their programme was particularly hit by the financial effects of COVID19 so this year we have been involved in fundraising to sustain this work through the pandemic.
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