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A YEAR IN

GUINEABISSA09U

MAU R IT AN IA

SUMMARY REPORT

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GOOD REASONS why Plan works in Guinea-Bissau

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Repairs to the water pipeline in Bafata City.

• Guinea-Bissau is among the world’s poorest countries. The 1998 civil war devastated the country, causing economic decline and ongoing political instability • Only a third of people have adequate sanitation • Less than half of primary age pupils attend school, and illiteracy levels are high, particularly amongst women

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Our priorities in Guinea-Bissau

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• Supporting better mother-and-child healthcare

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• Improving standards of primary education and MALreducing I drop-out rates • Increasing access to clean drinking water, sanitation facilities, and good hygiene • Promoting children’s rights and helping them take part in decision making

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GUINEA-BISSAU Country Office Programme Unit

Children pose for a photo at the end of a workshop in Bafata.

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GUINEA-BISSAU FACTS Capital: Bissau Population: 23 million Language: Portuguese (official). Creole and indigenous languages are widely spoken Climate: Guinea-Bissau is warm all year around and there is little temperature fluctuation; it averages 26.3°C. The average rainfall for Bissau is 2024 mm although this is almost

entirely accounted for during the rainy season which falls between June and September/October. From December through April, the country experiences drought. Economy: More than two-thirds of GuineaBissau’s population lives below the poverty line. The economy depends mainly on agriculture; fish, cashew nuts and ground nuts are its major exports.

A long period of political instability has resulted in depressed economic activity, deteriorating social SI ER RA E increased conditions,L EON and macroeconomic imbalances. Guinea-Bissau has started to show some economic advances in the last two years, after a pact of stability was signed by the main political parties of the country, leading to an IMFLI BER IA backed structural reform program.

“Children’s roles are changing, from obedient, silent workers to actors improving their lives and their community.” – Ingrid Kuhfeldt, Plan’s Country Director

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A YEAR IN

GUINEABISSAU 09 SUMMARY REPORT

FOCUS ON: IMPROVING STANDARDS OF EDUCATION Plan aims to improve educational standards and help children stay in school, by training teachers and school management teams, constructing and rehabilitating schools, supplying equipment and teaching materials, and setting up canteens. We also support nurseries and adult literacy projects. Our education programme has led to higher enrolment and completion rates, particularly for girls, thanks to initiatives such as providing separate girls’ toilets and raising awareness about girls’ education.

HELPING CHILDREN TO GET A BETTER START IN LIFE

T

he early years, from birth to six, are crucial to children’s physical, mental and psychological development.

Children prepare a presentation on child rights.

The Bigger Picture

Plan is working with children, families and whole communities to address the problems that Guinea-Bissau faces. This report can only tell a small part of that story. As a further insight, last year we also: • Helped dig 48 community boreholes. 85% of people in Bafata now have clean drinking water, compared to 40% nationally • Supported training on children’s rights for 900 children from 60 schools, and took part in a children’s carnival promoting this theme • Helped set up 15 Child Participation Groups, where children can express their opinions and contribute to community development. Your support as a sponsor is crucial to achieving these positive results. So on behalf of the communities, partner organisations, and most of all the children we work with – thank you!

“This is the best training we have had over the years.” To learn more about Plan’s work in Guinea-Bissau visit www.plan.org.au/ourwork/westafrica/guineabissau

Produced for Guinea-Bissau by the Australian National Office.

It’s a proven fact that children between the ages of three and six who go to nursery get a head start in life. They develop social skills, and start to become independent. Children who have attended nursery also make the transition to primary school more successfully than those who have not, and integrate more easily, meaning that they are less likely to drop out or repeat years. Affordable nurseries also help families improve their economic situations. Mothers don’t have to take their young children with them when they work in the fields, or leave them with older siblings, who then miss out on their own schooling. However, despite these benefits, nursery education is almost non-existent in Guinea Bissau. Plan aims to increase its availability, help communities to set up and manage nurseries, and improve the quality of care provided. Supporting community initiatives In the Bafata region, eastern Guinea Bissau, we support six community nurseries, which are attended by an average of 360 children every year. However, the quality of care and education is held back by the care-givers’ lack of qualifications and training. So Plan worked with a local partner called the Quelele Vocational School to run an eight day training course in Bafata for 32 care-givers from the six nurseries, together with the Regional Nursery Supervisor. All the care-givers are mothers themselves, and the training added to their knowledge and skills when it comes to working with nursery aged children. Plan and Quelele developed a practical training guide with clearly defined objectives and targets.

By the end of the course, trainees had learned how to keep proper records, make the best use of available classroom space, make daily plans, and create picture-reading books. Key topics including language and science were covered, and trainees were able to apply their new knowledge in sessions with children from Bafata community nursery. Walking before you can run One major challenge was to help care-givers understand the need to make activities appropriate to children’s ages. Many illiterate parents want to see their children reading and writing rather than playing and drawing, which they perceive to be “a waste of time”. Care-givers have to explain that learning is a continuous process, and that before running, a child has to learn to walk. Adiato, Sirem, Maria, Awa, Margarida, Cadijatu, Mariama and Élia are some of the trainees. Their responses to the training were very positive. “This is the best training we have had over the years,” says Sirem. “The contents were very practical and the fact we had the chance to apply what we learned under the trainers’ supervision was very good.” The care-givers will continue to be observed, their new skills analysed and their performance assessed. Changes in their relationships with the children, and changes in parents’ outlook toward nursery education will also be monitored. Based on this, Plan and Quelele will develop a new training course in line with local community knowledge and daily life. By improving the quality of care in nurseries, Plan is helping children to get the best possible start to their education, and be fully prepared for the next stage of their schooling. Thanks to this, more children will complete their basic education, giving them the chance of a better future. Some names have been changed for child protection and privacy purposes.

“It’s a proven fact that children between the ages of three and six who go to nursery get a head start.”

plan.org.au


Plan Guinea Bissau Annual Progress Report 2009