We are excited to share details of our signature afterschool program.
2021 Expanded Program, COVID-19 Resilience
Senegal has been hard hit by the latest COVID-19 surge and the pandemic has had a devastating impact on the most vulnerable segments of the population, mainly people with limited income. At Jeunesse Action, we remain 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 continue 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. When schools reopened in late 2020, we recruited and trained a group of four4 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.
Image above: Afterschool program students in Daroukhane receiving their school supplies from Jeunesse Action.
- We more than doubled the number of students participating in the program, going from 31 to 75 students. 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 following strict local health protocols and working closely with the school staff and parents.
- 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.
2020 Pilot Overview
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.
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.
Impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic
In the spring of 2020, the government of Senegal declared a national emergency as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Like countries across the world, Senegal closed all schools until further notice. Only students in exam classes were allowed to continue school online. In the meantime, teachers were required to hold classes online.
Despite these circumstances, Jeunesse Action continued the tutoring sessions. We knew that we needed to continue this work and students needed the support more than ever.
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 two reasons. First, it is widely used in Senegal and 90% of students had access to it either themselves or through their parents’ accounts. So, since April, we have been using WhatsApp for sending assignments, answering students and parents’ questions, and holding discussion groups. We had a to adapt to this new reality and three months into it, we have learned a lot about how what works in online instruction.
We have also continued to partner closely with teachers and the principal during the lockdown, especially on practice exams. We have recently learned that the lockdown rules in the country have been relaxed somewhat and that “entrée en sixieme” exams are scheduled to take place in-person in July 2020.
Plans for the 2020-2021 School Year
We are very happy with the results we have achieved with the first phase of our pilot project. We are especially proud of what we have achieved despite the interruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has disrupted children’s education all over the world. We have learned a lot and remain determined to continue to improve and expand our work in Senegal.
Our goal for the coming school year is to double the number of students served from 31 to 62. To do that we need to raise $10,000.
We thank all our supporters whose continuous contributions make this work possible.
We welcome all donations, especially recurring ones. You can set up a one-time or a recurring payment via PayPal using the Donate button on our website. Visit the Get Involved page for more details.