Karima is an educator and writer of children's books. Karima is 1/2 Senegalese, 1/2 Saint Lucian, moved to Senegal 11 years ago as a teacher when she was invited to create a program to accompany an exhibition of British children's illustrations. When she suggested that the children could create a book, the idea was not met with an open mind. That was due in part to the presumed poverty of the children involved; people's perceptions of these children meant their potential was not recognized.
Her proposed workshops would name children 'writers' and 'illustrators' and take them through the steps to create a book. The result: a book by children, for children, about their community and lives, and an interactive exhibition that set new records in Dakar. This is the story of ImagiNations founding, 2009.
The problem her project addresses:
Africa has the highest concentration of young people; 200 million aged between 15-24. Many children growing up in these countries deal with extremely challenging environments, environments that inhibit their potential. Poor and failing educations systems let them down; exposing the children to dangerous physical or absent infrastructure and poorly trained, underresourced teachers. The parents also have little to no information on child development. This potential for important cultural and socio-economic change promises dangerous civil unrest if the socio-economic needs of this youth population are not met. In Senegal, few spaces or institutions allow children to develop skills such as critical thinking, communication, problem-solving, creativity, and leadership.
The Vision & Mission:
The vision is to create a world of African children changemakers, solving the problems of development. The mission is to transform how African children perceive themselves and their ability to contribute to development. ImagiNation African Not only has a personal impact on each child that has the opportunity to be a part of it, but it has the potential of achieving systemic impact, by creating changemakers who are equipped to solve the issues that Senegal is confronted with. ImagiNation Africa empowers the ecosystem surrounding, supporting and facilitating African children’s learning by shifting the mindset of parents, educators, media and cultural actors to understand how children learn and how we can define learning for development.
The Solution Karima provides:
ImagiNation educates Senegalese children for the 21st century by offering alternative and complementary educational and learning models centered on play and discovery that incorporate children's cognitive and socio-emotional realities. Kër ImagiNation is a space for innovation created by, for and with children. Through play and experiential learning, children hypothesize, experiment, fail, innovate and creatively produce, critically think, and imagine. At the core of Kër ImagiNation is the nourishment and development of these qualities and practices through various thematics, subjects, and play environments. ImagiNation Africa works on the factors (impact) that hinder children’s development and the elements that determine quality.
ImagiNation Afrika identifies the many influences on learning. They engage schools and school systems/environments (teachers, school leaders, and training schools), media producers and cultural makers/influencers, technology providers and religious leaders toward a common vision of the kind of learning needed for African development. In addition to training and learning resources, they work on influencing and changing public perception by surfacing cultural and social norms that support and promote child development.
ImagiNation Afrika facilitates dialogue with various actors that influence public opinion and advocate for children’s learning in public spaces — working in nontraditional spaces with nontraditional means and nontraditional actors.
Currently, 9181 people are involved as active participants, 9000 of them being students and 25 schools are involved in the project.
Questions for Karima? @karima, what is your ASK? How can we get involved?