AYDA started in Senegal and has been networking with local NGOs Saint-Louis since April 2015. Senegal is changing rapidly and the nation’s marginalized communities are in dire need of funding for better education. Urban schools are severely overcrowded while rural schools are scarce..
The AYDA Senegal has five staff and one manager who are all currently volunteers. The AYDA Senegal Project Manager is El hadj Ndiaye – there are two French teachers, Ifra Sow and Alioune Diop, as well as a generalist subject teacher, Cheikh Fall, and a mechanics and trades teacher, Magaye Sene. Amina Niang is the AYDA on-call nurse who provides first aid at the Centre, and is assisted by Vieux Mbaye. The AYDA Centre is managed and operated independently of AYDA’s head office, by AYDA Senegal – this includes the management and hiring of staff volunteer teachers, nurses, doctors and the appointment of contractors. However, there is close collaboration and regular contact between the AYDA head office and AYDA Centre, and a shared commitment to AYDA’s vision and mission.
The inspiration for AYDA was born out of a college design project in 2015 which supported a school in Senegal that requested assistance with designing a new school building. Andrew Stephenson, AYDA’s Director, coordinated these efforts, which involved many professionals from around the world. After seeing the successful completion of the school, Andrew Stephenson was motivated to form a legal entity that could create and scale other similarly impactful partnerships in Senegal and beyond.
In December 2018, AYDA became a registered section 501(3)(c) nonprofit charity organisation in the USA where it is headquartered and has a Board of Directors comprising three members. Focused on addressing youth development holistically, AYDA partners on projects that create impacts in education, health, economic well-being, and other domains that contribute towards youth (defined as anyone 0-24 years) being able to thrive and reach their full potential.
Since 2019, AYDA has undertaken several small projects in Senegal, carried out by its partner NGO, AYDA Senegal, with funding raised by the AYDA head office. These projects include school building repairs and replacing broken school blackboards, street cleaning and tree planting, and an annual trash cleanup. AYDA is currently providing fundraising assistance to a local NGO in Senegal that plans to construct a school that will cost USD15,000 and will serve 1000 children – the first major project since its inception. AYDA is also in the process of initiating a project in Ethiopia to supply school writing materials to youth.
In 2019, AYDA Senegal was registered as an NGO in Senegal. AYDA Senegal has a Project Manager, three teachers, an on-call nurse providing first aid and an assistant nurse – all of whom are currently working as volunteers. AYDA Senegal is managed and operated independently of AYDA’s head office, but works in close collaboration on all projects and is aligned with AYDA’s mission, vision and principles. AYDA Senegal built the first of its AYDA Centres in June 2019, on land which is leased, and comprises a modest 2-room office where the AYDA staff conduct education and training programmes from. AYDA Senegal has established a strong network of connections and supporters in the neighbourhood in Senegal where it operates as well as in St Louis.
Senegal has a population of about 15.4 million and 60% of its population is under the age of 25 years. Over one third of the population lives below the poverty line and the majority of families suffer from chronic poverty. In 2011, Senegal was ranked 117 out of 127 countries in terms of UNESCO’s Education for All Development Index and 143 overall in terms of the Global Youth Development Index of 2016. 39% of women of 15 years and older (compared with 62% of men) are literate – a result of poor quality education and low enrollment rates.
The Government of Senegal’s new ten-year education sector development programme, the Program for Quality, Equity, and Transparency Improvements in Education and Training (Programme d’Amélioration de la Qualité de l’Equité et de la Transparence dans l’éducation et la formation – PAQUET 2013-2025), has been designed to achieve the government’s education policy goals including reaching the relevant Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This plan was renewed for the period 2018 – 2030.
Education in Senegal is divided into four stages:
pre-primary: at least 1 year between the ages of 5 and 6;
elementary: 6 years between the ages of 6 and 11;
lower secondary: 4 years between the ages of 12 and 15;
upper secondary: 3 years between the ages of 16 and 18.
In Senegal in 2017, there were 6.2 million school-aged children from pre-primary through to upper secondary school age enrolled in school, and close to 3.4 million children were enrolled in schools from pre-primary to upper secondary levels (more than 50 percent girls). However, a recent USAID study found that 37 percent of Senegal’s 6-16 year-olds are out of school. Furthermore, according to a 2014 report, only an estimated 32 percent of children complete primary school with the minimum acceptable levels in math and reading.
Very few children become enrolled in higher education – according to the Global Partnership for Education: the gross enrollment ratio (GER) in higher education was just 7% in 2017. Many girls in particular are not in school, or drop out of school – among the reasons is economic pressures on families requiring girls to work from young ages as well as childhood marriage which is one of the main reasons for girls leaving school (31% of girls are married before they turn 18 years old and 9% of girls married before 15 years old). Other reasons affecting girls’ enrollment, retention and completion of education include teenage pregnancy, the long distance to school, unsafe roads, poor infrastructure (school buildings), as well as the low quality of education.
And, in terms of educational facilities in Senegal, a UNESCO report on SDG 4 records the proportion of schools with access to electricity, the Internet, computers, adapted infrastructure and materials for students with disabilities, basic drinking water, single-sex basic sanitation facilities, and basic handwashing facilities – at the primary, lower secondary and upper secondary levels. The Senegalese primary schools have generally the lowest access to these facilities with only 49.8 percent of schools having access to electricity, 12.7 percent of schools having access to Internet for pedagogical purposes, 77.6 percent of schools having access to basic drinking water, 9.4 percent have access to single-sex basic sanitation facilities and 33.7 percent have access to basic handwashing facilities.
In many of the schools in Senegal, where AYDA Senegal is active, there are insufficient teacher-student ratios, a lack of sufficient classrooms and a dearth of learning resources and basic facilities. There are also insufficient levels of youth development activities in these schools to support and nurture the students to reach their full potential.
74.2% male youth (15-24 years) literacy rate (%) 2008-2012
56.2% female youth (15-24 years) literacy rate (%) 2008-2012
34.9% secondary school male student participation (%) 2008-2012
32.3% secondary school female student participation (%) 2008-2012
21.6% Attendance in early childhood education 2005-2012