Friday, June 03, 2005

AFRICA EDUCATIONAL TRUST: "Education is the key."

In its web site AET states: "Working closely with African communities to provide access to school materials and tuition. We recognise a great desire by the people of Africa to progress independently and not just to be led, with many young people keen to learn, acquire, and utilise new skills to help rebuild their countries after years of civil war. AET focuses on supporting basic literacy skills in helping to rebuild and utilise schools, with ongoing assessment and monitoring for improvement. We also support young people studying developmental subjects such as education, health and agriculture, which provide an essential grounding for the rehabilitation in some of Africa's countries, amongst its own people and communities. "

AET was founded in 1958 by Reverend Michael Scott (1907-1983) who was, a legendary figure, in the support of the anti-apartheid struggle and independence movements in Africa. Dr. Scott believed that peace and justice were inseparable and he spent his life struggling against injustice wherever he saw it, and he had a firm belief that "Education is the key to development of a people."

Originally part of The Africa Bureau, AET later split off to become the Educational Trust, while the rest of The Africa Bureau became the Publications Trust, which is no longer in existence.

During the 1970's and 80's, AET's helped exiles and refugees in the UK fleeing the effects of apartheid in their African homelands. AET helped these refugees to receive the qualifications and skills needed to reform and develop their home countries when they returned.

Today however, refugee support is only around 25% of their work with the remaining 75% being done on the African continent, with offices in Somalia, Somaliland and Southern Sudan. But the main Office is still in London.

Since 1993 AET has diversified and changed its primary emphasis to education in Africa - And more specifically to education in areas of conflict and civil war where educational institutions have been destroyed.

While they support education and development for the whole of Africa AET has many operational projects in Southern Sudan, Somalia, Kenya, Swaziland, South Africa and Namibia.

In southern Sudan and Somaliland, AET provides developmental aid for locally appropriate educational systems to be set in place.

Believing that e education is the key component for the rehabilitation of Africa and its people AET is persistent in its provision of this type of assistance.

Focusing specifically on education in Africa, AET runs a diverse and comprehensive range of projects in support of the right to a basic education for children and young people. Most of these projects are in Africa and many of them are designed to especially help young girls and women who are often excluded from school. The disabled also are targeted by AET for educational programs because they are often socially marginalized. And children who have been forced to take up arms as soldiers in violent conflict are another category that receives the benefits of AET

Working closely with African communities and local officials, AET employs local staff for its projects in Africa and utilizes the knowledge and expertise of its UK personnel for participation in workshops and training.

For example, in Somalia, where 3/4 of children have no school to go to, AET supports the Somali Education and Awareness for the Disabled (SEAD).

SEAD will provide increased access to education for 1600 disabled people across Somalia by distributing vouchers for courses in basic literacy and numeracy and / or skills training. In addition, the project will improve public awareness about disability in Somalia through establishing regional disability forums that will meet the needs and rights of disabled people in Somaliland and Puntland. Disabled people will be involved in writing radio programmes and short reading booklets about their experiences, needs and rights as disabled people in Somalia. Programmes will be broadcast via the BBC Somali World Service and booklets will be published and made available through community / school reading rooms across the region.

In addition to its educational functions AET carries out research studies to increase knowledge and awareness about Africa and African people. One such project was to map out the numbers of refugees and asylum seekers living in the Learning Skills Council - London North area, to establish the issues they face and the priority areas for service improvement. They have also done research into the barriers to employment of Refugees in London as well as looking into the Education, Training and Employment Needs of Refugees in London.

AET assesses and monitors schools for improvement and development by working with UNICEF in Africa.

This is done with the aim of improving the quality of teaching in primary schools in Southern Sudan. The work has included :
1) The Collection of baseline information on over 1,000 schools including information on pupil numbers, teachers, gender, facilities and the quality of teaching;
2) The training of headteachers in organization and management skills and the supply of materials to help them manage their schools; and
3) The training of Parent Teacher Associations (PTA's) so that they become more actively involved in decision making in their children's schools.

Among its many projects AET:

- provides basic skills for those who have been left illiterate and inumerate through the Somali Educational Incentives for Girls and Young Men (SEIGYM) that has helped over 4,500 young urban men and women so far living across Somaliland and Puntland.

- combats female exclusion and rural isolation through Women's Village Education (WOVE) , which began in 1999 and has helped 1,200 rural dwelling women and girls so far. And AET plans to expand this program sot that it will help 4,000 rural women and girls across four regions of Somalilan.

- offers distance teaching to overcome common accessibility problems with its Somali Distance Education for Literacy (SOMDEL) which delivers basic literacy training in partnership with BBC World Service utilizing radio broadcasts. In support of this program, AET delivers tutorials and distributes study packs to an estimated 10,000 learners across Somaliland, Puntland and of Southern Somalia.

- provides training of Primary School Teachers in southern Sudan through a distance teaching programme funded by UNICEF and also providing organisational and management support for staff at the Institute of Development, Environment and Agricultural Skills (IDEAS) in Yambio, Southern Sudan.

The list goes on, but I am going to cut it short here so you will have to go to their site at

so you can read about more of the wonderful things AET is doing.

AET became a U.K. registered charity in 1958 (No: 313139).

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