This is perhaps not the most disciplined start of class ever seen. The representatives of 16 civil society organizations specialized in education at international level arrived in the premises of the Parisian headquarters of Agence Française de Développement (AFD) at the crack of dawn on this morning in mid-November. They are already discussing in the corridors with great enthusiasm. So, what is the purpose of The Champions of Education? A flash test with three questions.
What is the purpose?
“The objective of the scheme is to work together”, sums up Martin Pericard, originator of the concept of The Champions of Education and Project Manager for Education, Training and Civil Societies at AFD. “It is a way of strengthening partnerships in the world of education actors”, points out Pierre Salignon, Head of the Partnerships with Civil Society Organizations Division at AFD. “There is a desire to more effectively coordinate actions and strengthen the Education Coalition in order to give a greater voice to advocacy in this field.”
What is the interest in the field?
Today’s pupils, who are each in turn called up to the board to make a quick presentation of their activity, are all convinced of the benefits of this type of initiative: “Meeting others is something we can never do enough”, whispers Alexia Houel, Head of Digital Projects for Aide et Action. “The more we have exchanges, the more we work together, the more effective we are in the field.” In practical terms, for this NGO which closely involves local communities in its programs, one of the virtues of partnerships between organizations is to “not overlap with the other actors”.
For further reading: AFD and education
It is the same “issue of international cooperation” for the members of the Association Sœur Emmanuelle (ASMAE): “We are going to go even further in the same direction with the other NGOs in some of our countries of operation, such as Burkina Faso or Madagascar. It really is a good thing”, says Hélène Bonvalot, Program Director of the association. “We are going to able to more effectively pool certain programs, such as teacher training workshops or support for local organizations, by providing these local actors with the best of our respective skills”.
The Champions, necessarily the major players?
“Small” organizations also stand to benefit. With five employees and a network of experts and volunteers working in particular on education, Hamap Humanitaire knows the importance of the “link between actors in the field”, as explained by Marie Laurent, Project Manager for this NGO set up in 1999. “It is also an opportunity to gain experience and implement projects together”, says the young woman.
At all levels of international education action, with all actors but also at AFD, there is a huge challenge. As pointed out in the latest analysis of the Observatory of French Aid to Education in Developing Countries, “There has never been such an urgent need to invest in primary and secondary education”. And working together has never been as necessary as it is today.