by Ando Ratovonirina
In Madagascar, UNICEF prints 15,000 of each of the Ako Books
and 6,000 of each poster. These are distributed in 20
pilot school districts out of the 100 total: that is, to the
fifth of the country where UNICEF has priority projects.
The pilot districts are in areas particularly prone to drought
or cyclones, and so in most need. They are also areas
where the new Ministry of Education curriculum can be tested, as
well as innovative teaching methods. www.unicef.org/infobycountry/madagascar.html
Dr. Hantanirina RASAMIMANANA has conducted a series of workshops
in three rural areas, to develop a teachers’ handbook for
primary schoolteachers using the Ako books and posters.
This year-long project was funded by the Liz Claiborne and Art
Future projects include aid to Malagasy wildlife artists and
authors, beginning with a series of art workshops run by Ako
artist Deborah Ross in summer 2012
AKO United Kingdom
The Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, www.durrell.org has extensive conservation programs in Madagascar. Durrell published of five of the bilingual Malagasy-English versions of the Ako Series. Bitika the Mouselemur is available from their shop at £1.99 plus postage.
Brighton and Hove Schools have pioneered an innovative language and literacy method: “Dual Language Talk for Writing”. This involves choosing stories at a level which interest the children in English, and memorizing and otherwise exploring simplified versions in a second language. Starting from Bitika the Mouselemur and Bounce the White Sifaka, the children study English story writing and French language, and expand to the wildlife and culture of Madagascar. For more information on the B&H Teachers’ Guide to the Ako Series , contact Judy Hawker,
An earlier program in Winchester Schools was initiated by Francine Dolins, now at the University of Michigan. Francine is now working with both USA schoolteachers and on lemur navigational research with the Lemur Conservation Foundation.
A two-day conference on Environmental Education in Madagascar
was held at the University of Sussex sponsored by the Sussex Masters’ Degree in International Education, on Jan 27th-28th, 2012. This brings together many of the United Kingdom organizations with an interest in Malagasy biodiversity. For more information contact Daniella Rabino,
Mile Oak School, Brighton, 6th year