Burkina Summer Enrichment Program

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Burkina Summer Enrichment Program


The Education Group’s client SIM(Serving in Mission), in particular the Center for the Advancement of the Handicapped (CAH) in the village of Mahadaga, Burkina Faso, recognizes that improvements in general French literacy and mathematics education are a significant need at the CAH primary school and in the greater Mahadaga region. Many of the children who attend the CAH school have significant weaknesses in the areas of abstract thinking skills and mathematical ability, and due to this they are often unable to complete apprenticeships in their chosen trade. Disabilities, including cerebral palsy, blindness, and deafness, as well as undiagnosed learning disabilities, compound the mathematical learning difficulties already present in a West African culture that has little emphasis on literacy and written, abstract language. The Burkina Summer Enrichment Program (BSEP) is a three-year project to create and implement an enrichment program for youth in Mahadaga, Burkina Faso with the partnering support of, but not dependence upon, students and faculty of Messiah College.

Purpose statement

The intent of this three-year project is to develop a four-week multi-faceted program of summer academic enrichment for children and youth at the CAH and in the Mahadaga region and to strategically model effective academic enrichment to Burkinabè staff, teachers, and youth (the future staff and teachers) that will have long-term sustainability in the region.


  1. To research effective design and implementation of elementary school reading programs that promote literacy, particularly among children with disabilities and under-literate populations.
  2. To design reading program materials, including book selections, games, literacy kits, and technology, for a 4-week summer reading and academic enrichment program in Mahadaga for Summers 2010, 2011, and 2012.
  3. To research and design learning activities that develop and strengthen abstract thinking and numeracy skills among elementary-age children.
  4. To familiarize Messiah College Education group students with the French and Burkinabè mathematics curricula, particularly the topics and structure of middle and secondary level schooling.
  5. To use and model a variety of technology tools with children and teachers in Mahadaga, and to observe and record the attributes of appropriate and useful educational technology in the West African culture.
  6. To work with SIM staff and local Burkinabè youth in an ongoing and, to some extent, formal (hired) capacity during the period of the BSEP project, to optimize cultural exchange and promote a community-owned sustainable educational initiative.
  7. To dialogue regularly and formally with SIM missionaries and staff in Mahadaga over the period of the BSEP project, communicating at least once a year via a written record shared by both parties. The purpose of this communication is to learn about and implement adjustments in the project that increase the learning value of the BSEP project for both the SIM client and Messiah College students.


The Education group has focused on three specific goals: creating a summer program for students at the Center for the Advancement of the Handicapped (CAH), preparing a tutoring curriculum for students planning to take middle level entrance exams, and incorporating a technology component into the summer activities. During the first year of the project, the majority of the group worked on the creation of various 20-minute activities focusing on reading, literacy, geography, geometry, technology, and numeracy for the students of the Center for the Advancement of the Handicapped (CAH). The activities were used during the four weeks our site team members were in Mahadaga, Burkina Faso. The members observed the effectiveness of the activities, allowing an opportunity to develop specific math tools and resources for the CAH based on their perception of topics that are especially difficult.

Secondly, the research of the French educational system accomplished by Bethany Blackwood while studying abroad in France was used to identify specific requirements that tutors should focus on with students preparing to take entrance exams in Burkina Faso. Although the Burkinabé educationa system is based on the French system, the two are comparable but not identical. Based on the French goals and our observations from previous site teams, resources were gathered so that site team members can assist any older students desiring math instruction. Together, these resources will allow the 2010, 2011 and 2012 site teams to provide assistance appropriate to the examination structure and cultural methods of instruction.

Lastly, the technology component developed into two branches: the digital picture frames project and the electronic math tutor project. The daily activities of students attending CAH were documented to highlight them and their abilities despite their disabilities. Site team members interviewed students and took pictures of the students with their families at their homes. The students recorded their answers to team members questions on a voice recorder. Digital picture frames with both the pictures and audio recorded were left in Mahadaga. Also, the pictures and written interview answers were bounded in a book, with copies at Messiah and CAH. Back at Messiah, Evan Liem took the first steps to create the Electronic Math Tutor Project into BSEP. The project is designed During the second year of the program, Messiah students created workshops in mathematics, music, handwriting, These workshops pwere used during a three week morning program during the summer of 2011. The music workshop was duplicated in the afternoons for students with visual impairments. Mathematics resources for students with visual impairments were also given to CAH. Site team members also provided training in Powerpoint and Word for teachers at CAH using netbooks provided by the Education Group.Pop
The mathematics workbook from summer 2011 was adapted during the 2011-2012 school year. The books were printed and sent to Mahadaga, Burkina Faso with the J-term 2012 site team. Pencil cases with school supplies were also included. These resources are available at the CAH for students who need mathematics opportunities during upcoming the summers.

In Summer 2012, professor Angela Hare taught 7 students with total vision loss in Mahadaga for four weeks. The students ranged from post-CM2 (about to enter 'college', equivalent to middle school) to entering '5ieme' (equivalent to 11th grade) and the content was primarily pre-algebra and algebra 1. There is a great need for translation of Burkinabe 'college' mathematics materials into braille and tactile graphics.


Kayla Cavuto
Kimberly Frey
Sarah Gilmartin
Becca Kharajian
Taylor Kincer
Pamela Kirkpatrick
Kelly Monaghan
Linnet Schoenthal
Lauren Veness



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