Monday, January 14, 2013

Coming soon: Adventures from the North

Soon I will be traveling to the North of the country to visit schools and evaluate teachers on the Human Rights curriculum. I will hopefully be attending some trainings, talking with students, and seeing how things are done up North. As you may know, the North was cut off from the rest of the country during the civil conflict, with many fleeing south or being displaced. In 2004, as many as 700,000 children were estimated to not be attending school. The number of teachers decreased substantially in the region, so non-governmental organizations often had to step-in to take over. 

Education for All initiative of the Global Monitoring Report demonstrates that there are serious inequalities between Northern students and their Southern counterparts: Students from the North are more likely to only have completed less than two years of schooling or to never have even gone to school. Between the ages of 15 and 19, the report estimates that those dwelling in the North are the most deprived groups, and more likely to be out of school compared to the South or those living in Abidjan.
In a report on Conflict and Education for the U.S. Peace Institute from 2010, the author asserts “The longer the government waits to rebuild the northern education system, the more the civilians and communities suffer. This in effect denies them their rights, limits their livelihood options, and frustrates entire generations of learners, further complicating reconciliation efforts.”
Therefore, my trip to the North has a few objectives: check out the EDHC teaching efforts for those farthest away from the capital, but also strengthen the relationship between the Ministry of Education and those who may have felt neglected by the government previously, while providing the Ministry itself with vital information about the performances of these schools.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Happy 2013!

As many of you may know, the year started off with a tragedy here in Abidjan; sixty people lost their lives in a stampede on New Year’s Eve in the stadium where they were celebrating the New Year by watching the annual fireworks show in the capital. Many of the individuals who lost their lives were children under the age of 15. President Ouattara called for three days of mourning, while investigations are underway to determine the cause of the incident.
The city is currently covered by a brownish gray haze brought on by the Harmattan winds from the north. Because the sun is essentially blocked, the temperature is a pleasant 25 degrees here in the capital, even a little “chilly” in the evening. At night the streets are lit by holiday decorations, especially orange, green and white lights lining the bridge crossing into Plateau and all the way to the airport. The University is also decorated in Christmas décor, even though the holidays are over.

I apologize for the brevity of this post and the lack of posting for the past month. Between various conferences and school visits, plus the holidays, I haven’t had a lot of time to write. I will do my best to get better at posting more often!