Plan International Canada Inc.

Plan aims to achieve lasting improvements in the quality of life of children, families and communities in developing countries. We do this through a process of collaboration that unites people across cultures, adding meaning and value to their lives by: Enabling children, their families and communities to meet their basic needs and to increase their ability to participate in and benefit from their societies Building relationships to increase understanding and unity among peoples of different cultures and countries Advocating and promoting the rights and interests of the world's children, with a special focus on Girls' Rights to overcome issues of gender discrimination.
Sep 12, 2014

Education and economic development in Senegal

Women in Village Savings and Loan Associations
Women in Village Savings and Loan Associations

Plan works with children, youth, and families, helping them to overcome extreme poverty and build more secure futures for themselves. Quality education and economic security are key to reducing poverty and improving lives. This is why Plan works with communities to create quality learning environments and remove barriers that prevent children from realizing these basic rights.


When parents are living in poverty or do not understand the value of school, children are less likely to be able to attend. In order to address this barrier, Plan’s five-year project in Senegal is improving education and economic opportunity. In addition to improving school facilities, Plan is providing training to local governments, school management committees, parents and children on sustaining quality education, and supporting the formation of Village Savings and Loan Associations to improve income-generating knowledge and resources for families. Your gift to this project, now in its fourth year of implementation, is helping to ensure that quality education is accessible and that the value of that education is understood at all levels of the project communities.

Quality Education

Construction has been completed on new classrooms, latrines, water points and playgrounds across 60 schools. Training has been provided to over 400 teachers and school directors in classroom and school management, gender equality, and child protection, and more than 700 local government education staff have been trained so that they can monitor the schools’ successful integration of child rights and gender equality into lessons and code of conduct.


Village Savings and Loans Associations

Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) members pay a nominal membership fee to create a group fund, from which they can take out low-interest loans to support their income-generating activities and household expenses. VSLA members also receive training on financial literacy, improving their understanding of different borrowing options, how to take out loans with caution, and planning for unexpected expenses. These groups are comprised predominantly of women, providing a much needed opportunity for women to contribute to their household income and improve their decision-making power within their homes and communities.

To date, 706 VSLAs have been formed, and members have received training in financial literacy and accessing market opportunities. What’s more, many of the VSLAs have developed partnerships with their local schools to collaborate and offer mutual support. Partnerships have also been formed between different VSLA groups, allowing members to come together to take on opportunities in the area. These developments are further proof of the impact of these groups on economic empowerment, and how economic empowerment can, in turn, improve access to education.

Jun 13, 2014

Education and economic development in Senegal

Cine-bus
Cine-bus

Project review

The five-year project you have supported in Senegal is now in its fourth year of implementation. Since the project’s inception, new classrooms, latrines, water points, and playgrounds have been built across 60 schools in three regions of Senegal (Thies, Saint Louis and Kaolak) to improve the quality of education and maintain high enrollment and retention rates. In addition, thousands of women are augmenting their assets and livelihoods with loans from Village Savings and Loan Associations. With greater economic security, parents are better able to support their children’s education, nutrition, and health care.

The “cine-bus”!
Plan Senegal used an innovative approach to raising community awareness on child rights, gender equality, hygiene, and sanitation. Instead of holding conventional community meetings, project facilitators screened messages and skits on a film. The film screen, however, did not reside in a fixed spot. It was carried around in a vehicle (top, right photo), which traveled from one community to the next, educating children and their families in an engaging, interactive way. Community members gather around the cinebus, to watch the film (middle photo), and have a chance to ask questions and discuss issues after the presentation (bottom, right photo). Information shared by the cinebus was also disseminated through radio broadcasts and theatre productions.

The forward momentum of microfinance
In the third year of this project, 291 new Village Savings and Loan Associations were formed by community agents trained by Plan’s local partner, APROFES (Association for the Advancement of Senegalese Women). In addition to undertaking financial training, many VSLA members have participated in training on gender equality, child rights, or school gardening. The 156 groups established in the first two years are no longer being supervised, as they have been through several lending cycles and have mastered the financial and operational knowledge to function on their own. The table below presents a breakdown of the all VSLAs’ progress across the three regions:
                                                   

                                                       Actual     Target
Group meeting attendance rate             94%         80%
Members holding loans                        64%         30%
Retention rate of members in groups    100%         95%
Average savings balance (USD)           $20.41        $20


As you can see from this table, VSLA groups are performing above target levels across all measures, indicating the motivation, diligence, and success of the members. The 100% retention rate is particularly impressive, as it is common for a few members to leave the group after a year or two due to factors such as family migration, or time-consuming duties in their homes or farms.

VSLA meetings are run in a strict, systematic way, to ensure that the group fund is secure, and all loans and repayments are accounted for. The money box is guarded and managed by a group treasurer, and a record keeper enters all transactions in each member’s financial passbook. By joining VSLAs, women are not only accessing loans, but also learning about financial management and accountability - essential knowledge that creates a transformational impact on women’s role and influence in their homes and communities.

Thank you

Plan has worked with students, teachers and community members to create learning environments that offer quality education and protection, over the past three years. None of this transformational work would be possible without your generous support and concern for children and their families in Senegal. Thank you!

Mar 14, 2014

Education and economic development in Senegal

Putting final touches on a new classroom
Putting final touches on a new classroom

Project review

The legendary Nelson Mandela once said: “Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice.” By supporting Plan’s work to alleviate poverty among children and families in Senegal, you are offering a hand up, rather than a hand-out. You are helping girls, boys, women and men realize their fundamental human rights to education, work, and a standard of living that upholds health and dignity.

The five-year project you have supported in Senegal is now in its fourth year of implementation. Since the project’s inception, new classrooms, latrines, water points, and playgrounds have been built across 60 schools in three regions of Senegal (Thies, Saint Louis and Kaolak) to improve the quality of education and maintain high enrollment and retention rates. In addition, thousands of women are augmenting their assets and livelihoods with loans from Village Savings and Loan Associations. With greater economic security, parents are better able to support their children’s education, nutrition, and health care.

Quality education

As reported in the last project update, all new classrooms, latrines, water points, and playgrounds have been completed, thanks to your support. While new infrastructure provides the framework for academic, physical, and social development, competent and motivated teachers determine the extent to which students succeed and advance. Over the course of the project, more than 400 teachers and school directors have been trained on classroom management, school management, and leadership. The training will help teachers adopt teaching methods that incorporate principles of child-rights and gender equality, ensuring that girls and boys get equal attention and protection at school. More than 700 local government education staff have been trained on similar subjects so they can monitor and evaluate the extent to which schools are successfully integrating child rights and gender equality into their lessons and code of conduct. Mothers of students from 15 project-supported schools were also trained over the past year. By learning about gender and child rights, mothers can help monitor their children’s learning at school, and promote gender equality in their homes.

As a result of training, all 60 schools involved in the project have developed a code of ethics and regulations that are read and discussed in classes at the beginning of the school year. The code includes attitudes and behaviour that promote safe, clean, and gender-sensitive schools.

 

School gardens  

Over the past year, nine project-supported schools began cultivating their gardens after 45 community members (including students, teachers, school directors, and village chiefs) were trained on gardening techniques. The 35 gardens that were formerly established in Year Two are continuing to flourish with communities taking ownership over their growth and maintenance. In addition to producing nutritional vegetables for the students, the gardens serve as  education resources, enabling children to enhance their knowledge of science, biology, and language. Students also learn which crops are ideal for their environment, and how to cook these crops in order to optimize nutrients for healthy development.  Some of the gardens’ crops are sold to generate income for school infrastructure and new gardening tools.

Building on the success of their own garden, the school management committee in Ngayene Sabakh took the initiative to support gardening activities in the six surrounding schools outside their community. This self-initiated sharing of expertise is a testament to the community’s motivation to expand the benefits of school gardens throughout the region.

Thank you

Over the past three years, Plan has worked with students, teachers and community members to create learning environments that offer quality education and protection. None of this transformational work would be possible without your generous support and concern for children and their families in Senegal.

Students express their gratitude to Plan
Students express their gratitude to Plan
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