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.
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.
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 microfinanceIn 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 TargetGroup 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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
In Senegal, one third of children do not finish primary school. It is difficult for girls and boys to remain motivated and pass their exams when their schools have inadequate infrastructure or a shortage of teachers. This is often the case in rural areas, where many schools do not have the space, supplies, or staff necessary for an effective and nurturing learning environment. Children’s education also depends on their families’ support. If parents are living in poverty, or do not understand the value of education, children - particularly girls - are less likely to finish school.
Plan is addressing these issues by building new classrooms, latrines, water points, and playgrounds across 60 schools in three regions of Senegal: Thies, Saint Louis, and Kaolak. Plan is also working with a local partner to create Village Savings and Loan Associations for community members to undertake income-generating activities and improve their livelihoods.
Spotlight on Village Savings and Loan Associations
In the first two years of this project, 156 Village Savings and Loan Associations were formed, including more than 3,700 members. VSLA members pay a nominal membership fee to create a group fund, and take out low-interest loans from this fund to support their income-generating activities and household expenses. Many of these groups have begun their second or third round of lending, showing they have mastered the VSLA process and are able to function independently.
During the third year, 26 additional VSLAs were formed, bringing the total number of VSLA participants to 4,287 (99% women). Thorough financial training is provided to new members, who are usually borrowing and saving money for the very first time. The training explains different borrowing options and explains how to take out loans with caution and plan for unexpected expenses. Women also learn how to decide between taking out a loan or using their savings in different circumstances.
When women are able to make financial decisions and contribute to household income, they gain confidence within themselves and decision-making power within their homes and communities. This power has great impact on the lives of children, as women will spend significantly more of their income on family necessities such as food, education and health care than men do.
Thank you for supporting the education and economic security of children and their families in Senegal. Your gift is helping to provide the knowledge and resources needed to transform lives and stop the cycle of poverty.
For more than two years, Plan has been implementing an extensive initiative across seven African countries: Senegal, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Mali. This multi-country program called PAGES (Promoting African Grassroots Economic Security) includes building and equipping schools; training teachers; and providing women, youth, and men with income-generating knowledge and resources.
Your gift has been directed to this project in Senegal, where we are working with communities to construct classrooms, latrines, and water points, as well as create Village Savings and Loan Associations. While these activities will benefit all children and their families, they include a particular focus on opening opportunities for girls and women, who face additional barriers to accessing education, employment, and financial resources.
Creating healthy and environmentally friendly schools
Thanks to your support, Plan has constructed 15 latrine blocks and 20 water points in schools across three Western regions of Senegal. The schools with new water and sanitation facilities have active student health clubs, which promote proper hygiene practices and help to keep their school environment clean. In 10 communities where school improvements took place, reforestation campaigns occurred, involving 124 community members. These campaigns included environmental education and tree planting to revitalize the areas surrounding the schools. Participating community members planted 775 eucalyptus trees, 36 mango trees, and 36 orange trees.
Proving their motivation to improve their own resources, some community members have taken action to expand on Plan’s activities with their own means. In one village of the Kaolack region, community members committed to building two extra classrooms. At a different school, the principal took the initiative to build an administrative office to store new textbooks and materials. Another principal enlisted teachers and 435 pupils to select and plant a variety of seeds. As the seedlings grow into trees, not only will they beautify the school environment, but those bearing fruit (such as mangoes) will provide food and a source of income to support school maintenance and supplies. These locally-driven efforts represent a vital goal of development work: propelling community members to continue progress with their own ideas, and without external assistance.
Thank you for helping to improve education and economic security for children and their families in Senegal. Much has been accomplished over the past two years, setting the stage for continued progress and sustainable change as the project moves forward.
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