community-led development

  • Tostan’s mission is to empower African communities to bring about sustainable development and positive social transformation based on respect for human rights.
  • Tostan means “breakthrough” in the West African language of Wolof. Since 1991, Tostan has brought its holistic 30-month education program to thousands of communities in ten African countries: Burkina Faso, Djibouti, The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Senegal, Somalia, and Sudan. (Homepage).

What; Where; Who; Programs; Archives; Evaluations; Resources; Get involved;
Address (1 of 3): Tostan International,  BP 29371, Dakar- Yoff, Senegal/West Africa;

Communities: Tostan is committed to helping the communities of Africa.  Since 1991, over 200,000 participants have gone through Tostan’s program.  Tostan has worked in a total of ten countries with 17 different ethnic groups.

Because of the sharing and dialogue that takes place as part of community-led outreach activities, even conservative estimates place the number of people indirectly reached by the Tostan program since 1991 at more than 300,000, with tens of thousands added each year. Estimates that take into account the general impact of the program rise to more than two million, as large-scale public events like marches for human rights and public declarations for the abandonment of harmful practices bring program impacts to a national and international scale.

Working with Marginalized Groups:

  • These numbers are especially significant given that Tostan’s principal activities involve grassroots education for some of the most marginalized populations of Africa.  With the exception of Guinea, where classes are 50% male and 50% female, Tostan’s classes average 80% women.  In addition, through both classroom participation and CMC training, Tostan engages the whole community, including groups not normally included in community activities and decision making, such as members of minority ethnic groups.  Tostan’s education program also empowers a wide range of age groups.  Most participating villages now have two Tostan classes: one for adults, and one for adolescents.  This allows adults and adolescents to feel comfortable discussing issues among their peer groups, while also encouraging intergenerational dialogue and interaction.
  • More recently, Tostan’s Prison Project   and Talibé Project are adding to the organization’s ability to bring its program to those who need it most.

Countries, Ethnic Groups, and Languages, 1991-2009: … (full text).

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