We are excited to share the evolution of our signature afterschool program.
We've been able to further expand our program to serve 90 students, the majority of students in fifth grade.
Thanks to a donation of 9 laptops, there is now a computer lab at the school, and children are learning computer skills in addition to academic enrichment and leadership skills. They are also using the computers for word processing and online research.
We've been able to maintain largely stable staffing of our local youth tutors, which is wonderful for the students they support and also speaks to a core issue Jeunesse Action is trying to contribute to solving: there are very few employment opportunities in Senegal and an abundance of motivated and talented youth. Recruiting tutors locally from the community serves two purposes. First, it ensures that tutoring is culturally competent and that students see themselves as represented in their tutors. Second, it supports local college students by providing them with jobs and work experience.
There has been some political unrest in Senegal as well as strikes, and we are doing our best to provide these supports even in these tumultuous times. It is even more crucial that students have access to support, since disruptions in schooling disproportionately students like those at École Daroukhane who are economically disadvantaged.
Image above: Afterschool program students in Daroukhane receiving their school supplies from Jeunesse Action.
- We have tripled the number of students participating in the program, going from 31 to 90 students from 2021 to 2023. 100% of the students come from low-income families who don’t have access to any kind of enrichment activities outside of school.
- We were able to offer all of our classes in-person again, following earlier phases of the pandemic where we continued to offer support via WhatsApp during school closures
- We had a 95% average daily attendance rate for each of our classes, a sign of the high level of commitment of parents and children to our program
- 3 of our 5th graders ranked first in their class. This is particularly notable given that the students in our program are those who needed the most help. In other words, they were far from the top of their class at the beginning of the program.
- We held parent-teacher conferences with 90% of parents to discuss the children’s progress in the program and encourage parents to get more involved.
- 95% of our students achieved at least a passing grade in French and math, two critical subjects in which students must be proficient to pass the “entrée en sixième” exam. This is important because in the Senegalese school system, if students don’t pass the “entrée en sixième” exam, they can’t start 7th grade. It is therefore an enormously important exam that makes the difference between continued schooling and dropping out. As research has shown, continued schooling at this age especially for female students is critical. Dropping out means that they are more likely to get pregnant at a young age.
- We have incorporated feedback from the school, and are now working with students in a year earlier than the grade that was the focus of the original pilot program. We've been able to offer our program to all students in the grade who wish to participate. These students need more support and have fewer resources than the grade above. Working collaboratively with the school and responsive to their needs is a hallmark of our program.
2021 Expanded Program, COVID-19 Resilience
Senegal was hard hit by COVID-19 surge and the pandemic had a devastating impact on the most vulnerable segments of the population, mainly people with limited income. At Jeunesse Action, we remained focused on putting young people at the forefront of leading the response to the pandemic. We believe that working with local youth to develop local solutions is the only way out of the enormous challenges that Senegal and the African continent face. The pandemic is no different. That’s why we continued to double down on our efforts to train and empower young people to lead our program at Ecole Daroukhane in Guediawaye, Dakar, Senegal.
During the 2020-2021 school year, we continued to offer our signature afterschool program – entirely run by local youth – in partnership with Ecole Daroukhane’s principal and teachers. As the world has learned, distance learning tends to exacerbate existing inequalities in education, where students with more resources are able to succeed, and students with fewer resources like those in Guediawaye, tend to fall behind. Thankfully, we were able to continue our program and support our students so they did not lose the gains they have been making.
We decided that in order to continue the tutoring, we needed a platform that would work remotely and for all students. We ended up deciding to use WhatsApp for sending assignments, answering students and parents’ questions, and holding discussion groups.
When schools reopened in late 2020, we recruited and trained a group of four tutors led by a local coordinator who worked with worked 5th and 6th graders offering academic and social emotional support to help students catch up and prepare for the crucial “entrée en sixième” exam that students must pass to enter the 7th grade.
2020 Original Pilot Program
In 2020, Jeunesse Action implemented a free after school pilot program at Ecole Daroukhane, an elementary school in the Department of Guediawaye, Dakar, Senegal. Guediawaye is located in the northeast of the capital of Dakar. It is an area with high levels of poverty and youth unemployment.
The pilot was launched in February 2020 and served a total of 31 students in the 6th grade who are getting ready to take the “entrée en sixieme” exam.
If students don’t pass this exam, they can’t start 7th grade. This is therefore an enormously important exam that makes the difference between continued schooling and dropping out. As research has shown, continued schooling at this age generally leads to better quality of life and job opportunities. For female students, dropping out means they are more likely to get pregnant at a young age.
We are enormously grateful for the partnership of Mr. Diedhiou, the Principal of Ecole Daroukhane, and all the teachers who welcomed and supported us throughout the entire pilot. The helped us get the project off the ground by giving us contact information about students and parents who might benefit from the pilot. They also sustained the project by providing classroom space and materials to hold recruitment events for the pilot as well as tutoring sessions.
We recruited of 31 students (12 boys, 18 girls) and worked closely with teachers and parents to learn about each student’s academic profile and identify the academic subjects where they need additional support. We prioritized students whose teachers identified as needing the most help. Based on that information, we developed tutoring materials primarily in math, reading, and writing. We continued to adapt based on the specific needs of each student. Jeunesse Action paid for each student’s school supplies including notebooks, pens, and pencils.
Schedule and Staffing
We offered face-to-face tutoring sessions twice a week. Each session was three hours, which meant that students and tutors met for a total six hours per week. We recruited a local coordinator and four tutors who each worked with a group of students. Overall, our tutor to student ratio was one to seven. This low ratio is crucial to providing the support these students need, and contrasts with the large class sizes and high ratios they have in their regular schooling environments.
We also offered a wide range of enrichment activities including theater and the arts. We also held an event to celebrate International Women’s Day. Our local coordinator, Ms. Sylvie Reine Manga, led the charge. Sylvie is a passionate leader dedicated to solving educational and social problems affecting children. She is from the Casamance region of Senegal. She recruited a managed a team of tutors comprised of mainly college students, including Ms. Mame Faty Cisse, Mr. Daouda Coly, Mr. Mamadou Diallo, and Mr. Serigne Fallilou Ba.
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