As part of the DIRECCT programme, financed by the European Union and managed by the French Development Agency (AFD), the NGO Bibliothèques Sans Frontières (BSF) is looking to expand its efforts to provide access to education for young people in Burundi. This spring, it will be deploying twenty Ideas Cube digital libraries in schools, training centres and youth centres across the country. These energy-independent digital libraries operate without an Internet connection and provide access to thousands of educational and cultural contents in the most remote locations.

Before this project is deployed, a look back at some of the association’s major actions in Burundi.

In Burundi, BSF has been facilitating access to culture, education and information for the most vulnerable people, particularly the youngest, since 2014, by deploying libraries – both physical and digital – in numerous emergency situations. To do this, it creates innovative educational and cultural spaces that enable people affected by crises and precariousness to learn, entertain themselves, create links and build their future.

Four examples of projects in Burundi

Rebuilding in refugee camps
BSF has been deploying three Ideas Boxes since 2014, in partnership with UNHCR, in the Congolese refugee camps of Bwagiriza, Musasa and Kavumu. Designed by Philippe Starck for BSF, the Ideas Box is a mobile media library in kit form that can be deployed in less than 20 minutes. With its books, games, computers, tablets, creative materials and cinema, it creates an island of knowledge in emergency, crisis and conflict situations, as well as in disadvantaged or isolated communities around the world. In Burundi, these places of knowledge, refuge and encounter enable young children and their refugee families to continue learning far from home, to enjoy themselves and to forget the traumas they have experienced. Thanks to AFD’s support in 2021, new content and training materials have been added to the Ideas Boxes.

Strengthening education for young Burundians
With PLAY International, BSF is supporting the Ministry of National Education and Scientific Research in the implementation of their Transitional Education Plan. To this end, the Twige Neza programme, financed by the Global Partnership for Education through AFD, consists of strengthening several decentralised learning spaces through the deployment of twenty-five Ideas Cube and three Ideas Box. The equipment and training of youth centre leaders by BSF teams enables children who have dropped out of school, particularly repatriated children, to rediscover a taste for learning and the path to school. In the school networks, training teachers in the use of digital tools in the classroom helps to limit the number of children dropping out of school thanks to an adapted teaching approach.

Learning, growing and dreaming away from school
5,000 children live on the streets of Bujumbura. Some are orphans, others are left to fend for themselves because their parents cannot afford to send them to school. With the Giriyuja association, three Ideas Boxes have been set up in the districts of Buterere, Kabondo and Kanyosha in Bujumbura, giving over 300 young street children daily access to quality learning tools and content in a safe environment. They can find books, computers, tablets and games, applications for learning French or Kirundi, maths and science exercises, colouring books, a television and cameras. The most vulnerable among them receive support to help them find their way back into school and receive appropriate psychological treatment.

Breaking the taboo of adolescent sexuality
With the support of the Dutch Embassy, BSF has installed 155 Ideas Cube in youth centres and associations throughout the country to facilitate access to information on sexual and reproductive health for 100,000 young people and adolescents. Accompanied by BSF, a large number of mediators and health professionals use the contents of the digital library to set up workshops on a variety of topics: maternity, HIV prevention, family planning, the fight against unwanted pregnancies and the prevention of gender-based violence. Resources on entrepreneurship, financial independence and innovation are also available.

Access to education, a fundamental right

With the support of DIRECCT, BSF will continue its efforts to provide access to education for young Burundians by deploying twenty Ideas Cube throughout the country in the near future. BSF teams are currently selecting the resources for these digital libraries.

Access to education is a fundamental right. It must be defended unconditionally. Education gives people the opportunity to project themselves into the future and to emancipate themselves. It reduces inequalities, fosters dialogue and tolerance between peoples and leads to the emergence of more peaceful and inclusive societies. With half of Burundi’s population under the age of 15, it is more than essential to give each of them the means to master writing and reading, to learn, to express themselves and to have an opinion. So that everyone can grow up freely and dream, wherever they may be.