On May 27, 2019, at the invitation of the Ministry of Education, Counterpart International participated in the opening of the National Basic Education Week in Louga, in the northern region of Senegal.

This 23rd edition of the National Basic Education Week was organized by the Department of Elementary Education of the Senegalese Ministry of National Education and titled Acting in Synergy to Improve School Performances in Senegal.

The event brought together over one thousand participants including education officials, students, teachers, community leaders, administration officials, religious authorities, technical experts, and financial partners. It provided the opportunity for Counterpart International to not only showcase its work but also highlight how its initiatives are linked to the Government of Senegal’s “quality and inclusive education” strategy through an exhibition booth visited by the new Senegalese Minister of Education, Mr. Mamadou Talla.

The Senegalese Minister of Education (light yellow robe) and the Director of Elementary Education (with a headscarf) talking with Odia Cisse, Counterpart Senegal’s Program Manager at the exhibition booth

The Senegalese Minister of Education (light yellow robe) and the Director of Elementary Education (with a headscarf) talking with Odia Cisse, Counterpart Senegal’s Senior Program Officer at the exhibition booth

The Minister expressed appreciation for Counterpart’s valuable contribution to quality education in Senegal. Other participants followed suit and visited Counterpart International’s exhibition booth. They received information from presentations and communication materials highlighting Counterpart’s McGovern-Dole and LRP (Local and Regional Procurement) projects implemented with USDA’s financial assistance in support of school feeding in Senegal.

The visit to the exhibition booths by the Minister and his delegation was followed by the official opening ceremony along with a series of speeches from governmental officials and cultural performances staged by local schools and communities. An award ceremony to reward the best performing teachers, students and school management community members also took place.

A photo of some the students rewarded at the Award ceremony

A photo of some the students rewarded at the Award ceremony

In his opening remarks, the Minister of Education underscored the importance of cohesive responsibility between all education stakeholders in Senegal, stating: “We are a community of education stakeholders and we should work together to make our dreams for education come true”. The local students’ representative, Ms. Seynabou Ndiaye, also called on all education stakeholders to play their part and let children have a say in issues that concern them, such as interests and rights.

The event incorporated playful and humorous cultural performances by local schools and communities as well as a parade that featured ethnic groups living in the Louga area which highlighted the need for continued and peaceful coexistence among the various local communities.

Ethnic parade during the Basic Education celebrations

Ethnic parade during the Basic Education celebrations

The audience was particularly moved by the outstanding performance of a blind student, which resulted in a standing ovation and an emotional embrace from the Minister of Education. Counterpart International’s Chief of Party, Ruben Johnson, was also asked to distribute certificates to some recipients.

Counterpart Chief of Party in Senegal, Ruben Johnson, presenting a recipient with his certificate

Counterpart Chief of Party in Senegal, Ruben Johnson, presenting a recipient with his certificate

Since beginning work in Senegal in 2001, Counterpart International’s education intervention efforts have always been an integral part of the nation’s basic education celebrations. This year was no different as Counterpart provided assistance in all stages of the event from the development of the terms of reference to implementation of the week’s capacity building activities. The celebrations of the National Basic Education Week wrapped up on Friday, May 31, in Thies, another educational district of Senegal, where the minister of education expressed his heart-felt thanks to all the partners who contributed to the success of the event.

Counterpart is currently implementing two USDA-funded projects in Senegal to support school feeding: McGovern-Dole (2018-2022) and LRP (Local and Regional Procurement) (2018 -2021). Both projects aim to provide sustainability and graduation to target communities to allow them to improve management of their own schools while phasing in local commodities which will replace imported commodities in school canteens.

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