Afrika@School: Teaching children about Africa
Since 2018, the Model African Union (MAU) Bayreuth e. V. is organizing “Afrika@School” – a project teaching German school children about Africa. Continuing its success story and supported by the Africa Multiple Cluster of Excellence, the project organizers are planning several events for 2020.
Creating valuable encounters between doctorates from Africa and school children in Upper Franconia was what the Bayreuth International Graduate School of African Studies (BIGSAS) had in mind, when it first initiated the project “BIGSAS@school” in 2012. Six years later, the Model African Union (MAU) Bayreuth e. V. took over the project and continues until today with the support of the Africa Multiple Cluster of Excellence. While changing the initiative’s name to “Afrika@School” the mission remained the same: To create an exchange between scholars and High school teachers and pupils in order to transmit information about Africa and to improve the image of Africa. “Media and school books often portray the African continent as a place exclusively dominated by crises, conflicts and catastrophes,” Hanza Diman, a PhD student in African history and the project’s coordinator, explains the motivation behind his commitment. “Afrika@School is trying to change that perception one workshop at a time.” doctoral students of BIGSAS as well as students in BA and MA programmes with a focus on Africa contribute to this cooperation with schools. “Our speakers have a strong connection to the African continent. They go to schools and institutions of social services like kindergartens, youth centres and retirement homes,” Hanza Diman says. It is up to each institution which format and which topic will be used for these visits. Formats range from workshops, talks or discussions to games and interactive courses like painting or performing a play or a fairy-tale. Afrika@School also offers out-of-the-box formats where they take classes on critical city tours. „These different formats provide an excellent and individual access for young people and create a unique and valuable dialogue on all sorts of Africa related topics,” Hanza Diman points out. Furthermore, Afrika@School provides a “Train-the-Speaker” training through which students who are committed to the project are equipped with useful skills on how to efficiently plan and run a workshop.
After a successful year in 2019 with visits to the Bayreuth Graserschule, Gymnasium Christian-Ernestinum, Gymnasium Münchberg, Margräfin-Wilhelmine Gymnasium, the initiative’s organisational team is planning several events for 2020. “We work together with the German child protection organization (Kinderschutzbund), to bring Zriba Ernest - an African tale teller - from the Ivory Coast to Franconian schools,” Hanza Diman reports.
But "Afrika@school" does not stop there. On 18 February, an „Africa Day” will take place at the Markgräfin-Wilhelmine-Gymnasium in Bayreuth (MWG), where a total of six workshops will be offered. During the day, the main topics will be:
- “Languages and some cultural practices in Burkina Faso and Benin” (Odile Woni MA Student KUGEA and Hanza Diman, BIGSAS Junior Fellow),
- “Child(ren), symbol of prosperity among the Kapsiki in North Cameroon?” (Zra Kodji, MA Student SPRINK),
- “Marriage process in Western Cameroon: from "knocking at the door" to the honeymoon.” (Eliane Kamdem, BIGSAS Junior Fellow),
- “The School system in Côte d'Ivoire” (Victor Nakou, MA Student KUGEA),
- “Start-ups in Africa (Nigeria)” (Frank Jakob, BA Student GEFA) and
- "Youth and leisure in southern Nigeria: music, films and weddings” (Ngozi Edeagu, BIGSAS Junior Fellow).
And yet another interesting project is planned for 2020: The midwife school in Erlangen will host an evening on the topic “Birth in the African context: Examples and experiences”Afrika@school will invite speakers for talks and discussions with the future midwives. Last but not the least, on 27 May, Afrika@School will be at the Seniorentreff at the Lutherkirchengemeinde to talk about “People and Religion in four African countries” with people aged between 65 years and 90 years old. And later this year Afrika@School is invited by the Kinderschutzbund to co-organise the next Bayreuth Sommerfest themed “Africa”. (sg)