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Families and communities across Senegal are profoundly concerned about the loss of cultural identity and values in children. The 2014 National Conference on Education concluded, “the Senegalese school system should produce citizens who are rooted in their cultural, spiritual and moral values.” This concern has been articulated by national educational authorities, the primary and secondary school curricula give very limited attention to cultural values and traditions. Parents are convinced that they should send their children to school but they are concerned that the positive cultural values that they cherish are not taught in those schools.
In close collaboration with Velingara District Education Office, Grandmother Project – Change through Culture (GMP), an American and Senegalese NGO, developed an innovative program “Integrating positive cultural values into schools” (IPCVS). The program goal is to improve the quality of education for children by making it more culturally relevant.
Objectives of IPCVS:
-to integrate positive cultural values into schools
-to strengthen communication and collaboration between teachers and communities
-to increase parents’ and grandparents’ involvement in children’s education
Key IPCVS activities are:
-development of teaching materials on positive cultural values
-grandmothers as teachers in classrooms
-story telling evenings and contests
-intergenerational community forums
IPCVS is implemented in 54 primary and 3 secondary schools, with 8,256 pupils, 239 teachers and 156 grandmothers.
Results of IPCVS: In 2015, an external review of IPCVS concluded that ICPVS contributed to: improved attitudes of communities toward schools; increased school enrollment; decreased drop-out of girls; improved behavior of children with peers and family; and decreased child marriage and teen pregnancy.
Positive 2017 exam results: Results of the primary school completion exam show very positive results of IPCVS. The exam success rate at national level was 57%, in the Kolda Region it was 57% and in the IPCVS intervention area it was an impressive 75%. The very positive exam results are mainly due to: increased mutual respect and collaboration between schools and communities.
The IPCVS program review stated: “The IPCVS model can be used throughout Senegal and in other countries”. Ministry of Education official, Mme. Mbodj, stated, “We would like to see this program used in schools across Senegal. It responds to our priority to make schools more culturally relevant.” We believe that the innovative IPCVS strategy can be scaled up within Senegal and adapted for use in other African countries. Across Africa there is concern about the loss of cultural identity and values among younger generations. Scaling up depends mainly on the commitment of national educational officials to make school more culturally-relevant.