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ActionAid Sierra Leone Press Release
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Jun 16, 2009, 17:10
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ActionAid Sierra Leone
36A Freetown Road
Phone+232 22 231392/232246
Fax: 232 22 232352    
Private Mail Bag 1058          Email
aasl@actionaid.org
Lumley            www.actionaid.org
Freetown
Sierra Leone

Press Release
International Day of the African Child, 16th June 2009

ActionAid launches empowerment tool for children

ActionAid International today begins piloting a new tool to enable children to contribute to the development of communities in eleven West and Central African countries.

Dubbed Childrens Reflection and Empowerment for Social Transformation (CREST), the tool aim to harness the potential of children to reflect on their situations and challenges and come up with their own solutions to problems facing their communities. It also seeks to enhance ActionAids accountability to communities with which it works, as well as to its sponsors in the north.

CREST will not only focus on early childhood care and development but will also consider adolescent children.

According to the 2005 Education Sector Plan for Sierra Leone, early childhood care and education is not just about education readiness but also relates to health, social and physical development of children.

In Sierra Leone the CREST will address issues of child mortality, taking into consideration incidences of disease among under-fives and maternal deaths, which have been rated to be among the highest in the world in addition to issues of child labour, trafficking, school drop-out, early marriage and violence against girls in and out of school."Part of our aim is to test the potential to nurture a new generation of children who will be champions of social, economic and political integration in Africa, built from the bottom up, and strong enough to challenge the current top-down regional integration processes," Dede-Esi Amanor-Wilks ActionAids International Director for West & Central Africa says.

Through CREST, childrens participation will be facilitated in three age categories of ages 3 to 5, 6 to 12 and 13 to 17. Among the processes involved, children will develop their own learning materials, such as maps, calendars, trees, and charts, and learn to convey messages through creative activities including culturally-sensitive games, theatre, song and dance, and school parliaments.

CREST is being launched today 16th June in Sierra Leone and simultaneously in Burundi, Cameroon, DRC, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Nigeria Rwanda, and Senegal."Africans, especially Sierra Leonean children, have always been planned for and not given the opportunity to choose what they want. This methodology will provide them the opportunity to decide what they want to discuss, what kind of actions they should take, who they should form allies and take actions with," said Madiana Samba, Education Coordinator, ActionAid International Sierra Leone."CREST is good for children, due to their flexibility, readiness and eagerness to learn," said Janet Kamara, Community Action For Rural Development, Sierra Leone.

The bulk of ActionAids funding comes from its child sponsorship programme, through which supporters in Europe sponsor individual children aged from 3 to 16 in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

The CREST concept is designed to encourage these children to contribute to the development of their communities in a variety of ways.

The CREST builds on ActionAids existing use of REFLECT circles - a community based literacy and educational initiative through which community members learn to analyze problems and find solutions. Inspired by the work of Brazilian educationalist, Paulo Freire, REFLECT stands for Regenerative Freirian Literacy through Empowering Community Techniques. Freires classic work, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, is perhaps the most quoted work on non-formal education.

As part of the CREST piloting phase, ActionAid country programmes will consult and share experiences with other agencies who work directly with children including PLAN International, SAVE the Children Fund and UNICEF.

For further Information, please contact:
Madiana Samba - Education Coordinator, ActionAid International Sierra Leone
Tel: +232 33 343 615or Madiana.samba@actionaid.org
Peter Beckley-Head of Communications and Documentation, AAISL.
Tel:  + 232... or
peter.beckley@actionaid.org

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