How It Started…
We have been in contact with the village of Fodécariah since 2005 (population at that time 12800) . Our contact goes back to a visit to Fodécariah by our chair, Martine Clémot, and her deputy chair Mamoudou Keita, who was born in Fodécariah and has lived in Germany since 1998. Martine Clémot got to know the then school principal and the staff of the only primary school, which, at that time, served 519 students from grade 1 to grade 6. The school now has 820 students. After visiting the school, she met the staff and representatives of the parents’ association to learn about the situation in the school and the needs of the village community. It became clear that there was a lack of school places, opportunities for further training, and job opportunities. The nearest secondary school is 60km away, but impossible to reach because the country has no private or public transport services. Consequently, teachers and parents urgently requested that a secondary school be built. At the start of 2007, Martine Clémot founded a non-profit association for the project with 7 members. Martine’s colleagues, acquaintances, and friends reacted very positively to the project.
We see our project as part of a social and just process of globalization, because good education means knowledge and understanding. It is a prerequisite for getting a job and offers protection against prejudice, intolerance and ignorance. It provides the chance to live an independent life. It brings wealth to your own country and prevents massive economic migration to the richer countries.
The name of the association „Bildungsförderung in OBERGUINEA“ is an expression of our goal of promoting a region that is far-removed from the capital and that is generally “forgotten” when it comes to the distribution of money or development programs. Fodécariah was our modest starting point for a “pilot project” with the ambitious goal of upgrading the whole region. Armed with a vision of modernization, we hope to expand our influence to the whole region. In fact, since building the school campus, our project has become the subject of much attention, and since the beginning of 2017, all the personnel at the ministry of education in the capital Conakry and local city of Kankan know about our project. Thanks to this success, we are now thinking about initiating similar projects in other villages in the area, for example in Gbenso, about 14km from Fodécariah. From Gbenso, it is not possible to connect with Fodécariah’s infrastructure without crossing the river Milo, which at present, does not even have a bridge. This would be very meaningful from the point of view of sustainability and effectiveness, because in the future, trained personnel with various skills would be in a position to optimize infrastructure between settlements.
According to the statutes of our association, our aim is the improvement of living conditions for the rural population of Fodéricah in the areas of schooling, training, agricultural development, raising levels of income, and provision of food. Furthermore, the association aims to develop working partnerships, organize travel to enable mutual understanding, and to raise awareness of the living conditions in our target region. In concrete terms, we take part in school events, we promote the activities of the association through our website, we create and sell wall calendars, and we try to generate media interest in our project.
Workshop 2017: Concept for a Vocational College 2020
Association chair, Martine Clémot, conducted a Design Thinking workshop on the subject „A vocational college for Fodécariah“. The aim of such workshop is to plan and execute our association’s projects in close alignment and cooperation with the people of Fodécariah. We realize that we can achieve widespread acceptance and sustainable development only by including the people affected from the start, rather than taking decisions over their heads.
Bazaar with products that could be produced in the region
Also, within the context of the Design Thinking workshop on the vocational college, we organized a bazaar to show how local fruit and vegetables could be transformed into saleable products by local people who acquired the required qualifications – for example by attending a vocational college.
Workshop 2014 „Non-Violent Education“
Unfortunately, modern educational concepts are largely unknown in Guinea. In many schools, as in Fodécariah, school students are subject to psychological and physical violence as a means of punishment.
With this in mind, Martine Clémot conducted a Design Thinking Workshop with teachers from the primary and secondary schools with the aim of fostering an understanding that care, attentiveness, and encouragement provide a better basis for learning than an atmosphere of fear.