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Formal education in Burkina Faso: a socio-anthropological study of parents’ councils in Fada N’Gourma

Agatha LECLERCQ student laureate

°1982 Belgium
Master in Sociology, Université Catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, 2005

Champ educatif formel au Burkina Faso/Etude socio-anthropologique des associations des parents d'élèves à Fada N'Gourma

Maximum accessibility to primary education is, without question, one of the most important possible leverages for rural development in Sub-Saharan Africa. Burkina Faso included this priority in its 1991 constitution, next to the policy of centrally-based decentralization.
Based on a short research trip (involving a qualitative study of the source materials and inventive dialogues with the various parties concerned), Agatha Leclercq presents a reliable and well-documented and contextualised case study of primary schools in the ecologically extremely poor region of Fada N’Gourma in south-eastern Burkina Faso. Literacy rates in the region have not increased since 1991, however. The national education policy is aimed only at increasing school attendance, and includes neither projects for teacher training or curriculum development, nor a societal objective for regional or rural development, nor sufficient funds for mobilising personnel, the children and their parents.
Resourceful parents’ councils, despite having no specific educational skills, legitimacy or mutual cooperation or streamlining, have succeeded in preventing a collapse of existing teaching activities in the schools. It is highly doubtful whether these parents’ councils will be able to evolve into a civil society, and whether the state has sufficient legitimacy or provides an adequate local network to efficiently run such a civil society.
This bleak situation reinforces the people’s general view of an ‘uncertain and unreliable or risky modernization’ (‘une modernité insécurisée et insécurisante’, in the words of Prof. P.-J. Laurent, thesis supervisor).

report: Prof. R. Devisch, Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium