Pan African Connection
Bringing Literacy, Education and Development to disadvantaged communities across Africa
Not wanting to fall in the trap of actually naming names, there is a beauty to the non-governmental
organization. When borders determine what governmental agency is welcome and which ones are not,
the respect that the NGO has earned over time is truly something for which they can be proud, their
efforts and personnel laudable, commendable, worthy of admiration.
But not all so named NGO’s live up to the promises made, their own statement of purpose, or at times
not even the direction given by their regents or board of directors. Many a criticism can be heard in the
trenches about the pronouncements of advances made by the activities of the NGO, but these do not
correspond to the real needs in the community they are supposed to serve.
The historical anchors that held back development in Africa, with its attendant mentalities have a way to
erode gains, mitigate efforts, dampen spirits and drive a wedge of separation into clearly discernible
staff NGO and surrounding community, almost as if it were two distinct armies on separate maneuvers
in the same tract of land.
Cognizance of these potential, yet all too real, tendencies prompted an evaluation of these
circumstances and the planning to deal with it. So how could we bring accountability for resources,
programs and instruction imparted?
As a sidebar; experience in the non-governmental sector has brought to mind that often the heavy
emphasis on getting the work done, fails to account for effectiveness of the same, and something as
mundane as relevancy has the potential of being left out.
While attending the 2007 Conference on ICT in Education for Africa, held in Nairobi Kenya, one of the
presenters was documenting a curious situation. There is a small island in southern Africa, renowned
for its beaches, great weather and resort qualities. The speaker went on to say how this small island is
so blessed by the fact that there is more staff belonging to NGO’s than native residents! That there is
effective competition on the part of the NGO’s to claim the residents as clients. Incidental to this very
noble work is the fact that the island suffers from beautiful weather and well placed recreational
facilities! Of course, the natives need to be helped out of this misery!
The scope of the work envisaged by Pan-African Connection has planed that progress evaluation on
the target communities be conducted by a third party. Otherwise effectiveness of the programs and
relevancy may be missed.
A critique of the “Community Telecenters in South Africa and Uganda” also drove home this point. The
same reliance that we are building on technology as a tool can provide us with the independent testing
and evaluation mechanisms.
As far as health matters is concerned (one more sidebar) these same tools for evaluation and testing
can help us train our sights on longitudinal health studies, evaluations on the uptake of instruction
given, receptiveness and relevance. As a matter of fact, this feedback is essential for tailoring
instruction to the needs and advances of the local community as we move forward to increase services
It should be clear that the NGO is an essential component of the comprehensive approach towards our
target communities. Under the plan of action of Pan-African Connection, and the contractual
agreements between the NGO and the community, it will help to focus the work, amplify it, as more
communities can be signed-up and costs of program implementation is not left entirely on the pockets
of the NGO. While at the same time, competencies and abilities to deal with contingencies are
improved upon; increasing knowledge base that will facilitate working with more populations and do
so more effectively.
The way forward is a concerted effort on the parts of the community, the supervising NGO, content
providers (MoE) and Pan-African Connection.