Action for Inclusive Education in Madagascar (ASAMA), Madagascar

  • Date published:
    27 August 2015

Programme Overview

Programme Title Action Scolaire d'Appoint pour les Malgaches Adolescents (ASAMA)
Implementing Organization Platform of Associations in Charge of ASAMA and Post-ASAMA (PACA)
Language of Instruction Malagasy
Funding In 2015 the programme was jointly funded by the following national and international donors: Preschool Education and Literacy Department (DEPA); UNESCO; BFV Société Générale; Rotary Club Antananarivo; Distributeurs CDA et HARDI; Lady’s Circle; and Foyer Philosophique Les Démophiles France.
Programme Partners Preschool Education and Literacy Department (DEPA); Ministère de l’Éducation Nationale; FFF Malagasy Mahomby; Taksvärkki Finland; the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); UNICEF; UNESCO; Mahamasina Rotary Club; BFV Société Générale; QMM Sherritt-Ambatovy; Les Démophiles; Les Salesiens Don Bosco; the United Nations World Food Programme; and Réseau éducation pour tous en Afrique (REPTA).
Annual Programme Costs €5,000 (2015). This estimate equates to the maximum cost each centre encounters and includes the three levels: pre-ASAMA, ASAMA and post-ASAMA. In most ASAMA centres, post-ASAMA is not implemented.
Date of Inception 2009

Country Context

Madagascar, an island in the Indian Ocean, is considered a low-income country. It was ranked 155th out of 187 countries in the United Nations 2014 Human Development Index. According to the World Bank (2015), Madagascar will not reach the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDG) by the end of 2015. The targets for primary education enrolment and completion rates are among the MDGs that will not be achieved.

According to data reported by the World Bank, poverty has not always been an issue in the country. In 1971, its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita reached US $501.16. However, over time it has decreased significantly. In 2014, it was $270.69. More than three-quarters (75.3%) of Madagascar’s population are in poverty, living on less than US $1.25 per day (World Bank, 2014). The eradication of poverty is another MDG which will not be achieved.

Madagascar has faced a number of political challenges, which have had a limiting effect on development in the country. However, in 2014 a new president was elected and international partners, who did not recognize the previous government, have normalized their relations with Madagascar.

According to UNESCO (UIS, 2009), Madagascar also faces a challenge in improving literacy levels, with an adult literacy rate of 64.5% and a youth literacy rate of 64.9%. In order to combat the low levels of literacy skills, civil society organizations and other groups working in this field came together to create the Platform of Associations in Charge of ASAMA and Post-ASAMA (PACA) to contribute the programme component of Supporting the Promotion of Education for All.

Programme Overview

In 2001, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Malagasy Ministry of Education and Scientific Research created the joint programme, Supporting the Promotion of Education for All. Its objective has been to improve the accessibility of basic education, as well as the contexts and conditions in which learning takes place.

Supporting the Promotion of Education for All has three different programme components: Intensive Functional Literacy for Development (AFI-D); Basic Technical and Vocational Training (FTPB); and School Support Action for Malagasy Teenagers (ASAMA).

The ASAMA programme components were conceived through collaboration between FFF Malagasy Mahomby, an association which specializes in adult literacy, and the Université de Fianarantsoa. The result was the creation of an intensive learning method, targeting young teenagers with low literacy skills, for reintegrating them to elementary school.

In 2002, after FFF Malagasy Mahomby had assessed the programme’s feasibility, a class using the ASAMA method was opened for young teenagers in Fianarantsoa. Ten months later, twenty teenagers registered for the Certificate of Basic Primary Education (CEPE) and ten candidates successfully attained it. The results were higher than was usual for CEPE in the region. Therefore, in the 2003/04 school year, the ASAMA method was implemented in more classes.

In 2003, the ASAMA method was reviewed and improved upon so that it could be implemented outside Fianarantsoa, and also be targeted at children over eleven. The diffusion of the programme’s progress was supported through the Education for All (EFA) development programme and through a pilot project, implemented by UNESCO.

In 2009, the joint programme came to an end due to Madagascar’s constitutional crisis. However, different non-governmental organizations (NGOs) decided to re-establish PACA to support the government and the education ministry in raising literacy levels and the primary enrolment rate. PACA continued the implementation of the ASAMA programme at its different levels: pre-ASAMA (including Ambohitsoratra and basic numeracy), ASAMA, and post-ASAMA.

ASAMA’s slogan is ‘I study in order to fight against poverty’ (Hianatra aho handreseko ny mba fahantrana in Malagasy). The programme identifies poverty as both cause and consequence of the different challenges faced by the Malagasy community in terms of basic human rights, access to decent work, getting a fair wage, social and economic opportunities, access to information, influence in government, freedom to move, and fair trade.

Aims and Objectives

The ASAMA programme has two general objectives, under each of which there are four specific objectives.

1. To prepare young people to live an active and decent life, supported by stable financial activity 2. To prepare young people to support their respective communities in creating a sustainable and secure environment
a) To ensure that ASAMA learners pass the CEPE and that students (11 to 14) are reintegrated to secondary school to receive their general education. a) To support young ASAMA learners to trace life projects that connect their professional projects with sustainable development at the local level.
b) To ensure that the professional project developed at post-ASAMA level reflects the needs of the labour market. b) To ensure young ASAMA learners are trained in food security, security and safety.
c) To provide all young ASAMA learners with the widest possible access to training and professional education, creating a system that also ensures technical training in line with needs of the private sector in the region. c) To train post-ASAMA learners to become responsible citizens and social leaders committed to the preservation of their communities and their non-renewable resources, and to the sustainable use of renewable resources.
d) To approach enterprises and public and private employment services to provide professional guidance, advice and updated information on the labour market to help young people to find, obtain and maintain employment. d) To prepare young people to live in a community, respecting gender equality and supporting the empowerment of women.

Programme Implementation

The national platform PACA comprises sixty-six civil society organizations in Madagascar. Since ASAMA is part of PACA and is implemented by it, the programme must not only meet the membership requirement indicated by PACA but must also satisfy the logistics requirements, in terms of premises, classroom furniture, facilities, and the need to have a local person to act as class animator.

The following criteria need to be met before the ASAMA programme can be implemented. Organizers must:

  • Identify classes of at least thirty teenagers;
  • Receive permission from parents and local authorities;
  • Insure the premises where the training will take place;
  • Send monthly progress reports on the animator’s work to PACA and DEPA;
  • Mobilize local partners to support learners, provide school meals and cover sundry expenses for school supplies;
  • Help consolidate other possible support offered under the programme;
  • Ensure school meals for children using provisions supplied under the programme; and
  • Prepare and enter at least twenty teenage candidates for the final examinations for the Certificate of Basic Primary Education (CEPE).

The ASAMA programme has three different levels: pre-ASAMA, ASAMA, and post-ASAMA. The three differ in terms of target groups, duration and purpose.

The pre-ASAMA level combines Ambohitsoratra, a special way of learning to read and write in Malagasy using participatory and playful techniques, with numeracy and basic skills. It is the first level of the programme and focuses on young people who have no literacy skills, have not attended school or have left school early. This level lasts two months (comprising forty two-hour sessions) and uses an intensive, engaging story-based method of learning to read Malagasy. The Ambohitsoratra method was conceived for children aged between eight and ten who have not attended school. Once they have completed this programme, children are reintroduced to the state primary school system at Grade 2.

The second level, ASAMA, is 10 months’ long, and focuses on children over eleven. These are children who have left school early or learners from Ambohitsoratra level. They come from poor families, or families living in areas where there are no primary schools. This level provides them with basic knowledge, preparing them to pass the first official primary-level exam and to earn the Certificate of Basic Primary Education. This is necessary if children are to pass the entrance examination and make the transition into secondary education. Younger learners taking the exam can register for the Certificate of Basic Primary Education or Grade 6, while older learners can register only for the CEPE because of the age limits on secondary levels.

Post-ASAMA is the third level at which learners have three options:

  1. Teenagers who successfully earn the Certificate of Basic Primary Education and pass Grade 6 can enter secondary school.
  2. Younger learners, whether they have earned the certificate or not, can re-enter primary school at Grade 5.
  3. Learners whose age does not allow them to enrol at the Collège d'Enseignement Général (Secondary School of General Education) can attend technical and professional training. Such training lasts six months. All courses include seminars and workshops on nine separate themes: knowledge of the sector; knowledge of young people; knowledge of the institutional environment; introduction to economics; project identification; project organization and evaluation; loans and management; marketing techniques; and technological innovation.

This level takes account of the material resource requirements of both centres and learners. These can include equipment, tools, travelling expenses and half-board for trainees, micro-loans or incentives to start their own businesses, infrastructure and the geographical, social and economic environment. The materials are provided, and in some cases bought, by the ASAMA centre. After training and monitoring, there is an additional component with options of either an internship at an enterprise or self-employment. The monitoring and work placement aim to provide an opportunity for learners to apply the knowledge they have acquired.

Teaching and Learning Methodologies

Every class is attended by between 25 and 30 students. Local authorities, the parents of beneficiaries, and local education leaders work together to identify learners and determine their individual needs. The approach, and the teaching and learning content and materials provided, vary according to the pedagogical objectives at each of the three levels.

At all levels of the ASAMA programme, the Malagasy language is used as a medium of instruction. However, during lessons the educator/animator also speaks the regional dialect (mother tongue) in order to teach ASAMA learners the official language, Malagasy, which is used to teach all subjects apart from French. Moreover, sometimes CEPE subject exams are given in regional languages.

Programme Content

ASAMA classes cover different subjects. At the pre-ASAMA level, students learn reading, writing and numeracy skills. They begin to acquire essential competences, which the programme groups into three different categories: savoir-être (good manners, civility and co-living skills), savoir-savoir (basic knowledge skills) and savoir-faire (transferable skills).

At the ASAMA level, learners study geography, history, French, Malagasy, arithmetic, physical education, natural sciences, the arts and civic education. All of those topics (with the exception of French) are taught in the Malagasy. In all classes, students work towards acquiring various skills, including expressing themselves with clear and organized ideas, reading and understanding short texts, writing legibly, and distinguishing the main ideas of a text. During French class, the topics covered include distinguishing the different vowel sounds, vocabulary, French grammar, reading and understanding short texts, and writing phrases legibly. In the arithmetic class (taught in Malagasy), students learn simple maths operations, decimal numbers, the multiples of simple numbers, fractions, and how to use measures. The topics and content normally acquired during primary school are covered by the course over ten months.

At the post-ASAMA level, students learn about life competences called in the programme ‘life skills’, and either receive technical training in form of an internship at a local enterprise, or start their own businesses.

It is important to note that content changes according to the level.

Teaching Material and Method

The intensive method for learning to read Malagasy and French at pre-ASAMA level uses participatory, story-based learning techniques involving games and different activities. Animators deliver their lessons through the following material: an Ambohitsoratra story toolkit, audio support materials, material for creating activities, writing materials, colouring books to imprint shapes on the mind, and reading books. The Ambohitsoratra method takes advantage of children’s natural love of games and play. It creates a story set in the imaginary Ambohitsoratra village (village of words). The inhabitants of the village are letters of the alphabet. The relations that link the inhabitants create words. This story is told to children who, in repeating it, memorize the letters. This learning method is intensive: at pre-ASAMA level, classes last six hours a day, seven hours at ASAMA level, over a period of 12 months.

At the ASAMA level, a learning method with an intensive basic training model is used. Animators have access to teaching material (written in Malagasy) designed by national literacy experts, while learners are provided with the full range of support materials mentioned above. A school meal at lunchtime helps to keep students attending classes. Other components, such as visit to cultural and social centres, are part of the programme.

Finally, at the post-ASAMA level, students attend technical training according to the different skills they are interested in acquiring (for example, sewing, agriculture, farming, metal work and mechanics). This training is offered by the centre, alongside seminars and workshops, which promote responsible citizenship and sustainable development. ASAMA’s delivery of this content is guided by three concepts: knowledge, soft skills and know-how.

The essential knowledge the programme seeks to impart concerns equality, peace, human rights, development, the environment and international understanding. Soft skills concern attitudes and values that are hard to measure, but are nevertheless essential in achieving self-respect and respect for others, and cultivating a concern for the environment, a commitment to justice and peace, open-mindedness, empathy and solidarity. Know-how, finally, concerns a range of capacities, including critical thinking, problem-solving, cooperation, imagination, self-assertion, conflict-solving, tolerance, and participation and communication skills.

At the post-ASAMA level, the content and material reflect a centre’s specialisms and the region’s priority sectors, for example agriculture, IT, craft, metalwork, stonework, brick-making and pottery.


The ASAMA programme recruits high-quality and committed animators/educators to ensure the success of its literacy activities.

PACA’s funding is sufficient to pay ASAMA animators/educators for only two months of their time. Each establishment must find its own sources of funding to complete the school year. All funds and supports received by PACA are distributed equally to each ASAMA class.

Pedagogical committees are established to support the work of the animators/educators. The committees comprise employees of the Preschool Education and Literacy Department (DEPA) and the pedagogical team of PACA. Staff members must have the following profile: a high school diploma and three years of study in the social sciences or education. They must also have knowledge of the social and emotional development of children and young people, teaching methods for primary school children, policies in education and the ASAMA pedagogy. Staff are paid on a daily basis.

Monitoring and Evaluation

The ASAMA programme is monitored and evaluated at ASAMA and post-ASAMA stage, and through visits made by PACA and DEPA managers.

The ASAMA evaluation is conducted by the head of each administrative and education zone within a decentralized education ministry structure. They are in charge of the programme’s monitoring and accomplish it through an analysis of mid-term examinations, admission to secondary school and the CEPE examination.

The post-ASAMA evaluation follows the training guidelines established by the Ministre de l'Emploi, de l'Enseignement Technique et de la Formation Professionnelle (the Minister for Employment, Technical Education and Vocational Training). Success is evaluated through the acquisition of the CEPE and the results of the internship and the arrangements made for self-employment.

PACA managers and the central pedagogical team conduct visits once a year, in the second or third periods of the ASAMA-level part of the programme. Visits are undertaken in four different areas and provide an opportunity to meet the animators/educators and the centre’s managers. Regional PACA trainers and pedagogical personnel conduct individual visits to classes. Following ASAMA’s official exam, training and internal evaluation are organized with ASAMA animators/educators. Annual evaluation is carried out with the managers of the ASAMA centres in each region. The chief of each region then provides a report to the central team. At the end of the year, PACA organizes a national meeting for all ASAMA centre managers and members of the PACA.

During the visits, managers monitor the different levels of ASAMA and provide new training for educators/animators in each provincial capital.

In 2011, external monitoring and evaluation of the ASAMA programme was carried out. A programme evaluation was conducted by UNESCO, as well as an evaluation by the NGO Taksvärkki and an impact study by FFF Malagasy Mahomby.

Impact and Challenges

Programme Impact

The ASAMA programme has had a positive impact in terms of literacy levels, gender equality and human rights. This impact is in evidence not only among Malagasy teenagers but also in the communities in which the programme has been implemented.

The programme initially delivered by FFF Malagasy Mahomby has served as a pedagogical basis for the programme, using the contents of the official five-year primary school programme: life and earth sciences, the Malagasy language, history and geography, French and civics. Adapting the programme to the national situation, PACA has brought many improvements, strengthening the participatory method, and adopting a transversal method to raise awareness, focused on the following topics for 2015: citizenship participation, peace education, sustainable development, preparation for adult life and numeracy, and personal and social skills. These topics were already covered in mainstream school but have been adopted by ASAMA and acquired by the programme’s learners (teenagers) and their parents.

The table below shows the quantitative results of ASAMA in terms of people reached and registered, and those successful in achieving CEPE; as well as of those students who made the transition into formal education (Collège d'Enseignement Général).

School year Participants recruited ASAMA Classes Registered for CEPE Successful candidates for CEPE Integrated to Collège d'Enseignement Général Number of Participants who drop out
2009/2010 1204 44 865 700 512 239
2010/2011 1374 54 903 777 680 471
2011/2012 2364 93 1910 1566 1308 454
2012/2013 2010 83 1580 1311 1102 430
2013/2014 2012 80 1602 1024 823 410
2014/2015 2070 75 1929 1292 * 141

Inclusive education: Four young people with physical disabilities who were not enrolled in school have participated in the programme. Overall, 53% of ASAMA learners are female, while, in 90% of ASAMA classes, the animators are women.

Equitable education: The new programme has been expanded to the whole island by DEPA. PACA is trying to maintain its usual programme and to keep it open to both girls and boys. During the 2014/2015 school year, 1,142 girls and 971 boys attended classes.

Education for lifelong learning and the use of ICTs: Twelve ASAMA classes have obtained a smartboard, and a PACA trainer provides continuing education classes to ASAMA leaders on the use of smart boards and other ICTs. The training is then cascaded to their respective learners. However, a lack of electricity and appropriate sites mean that this course is not open to everyone.

The ASAMA programme has also had an impact in terms of lifelong learning, in particular on the use of ICTs, the consequences of climate change, literacy for the development of technical competences, and food security.

Programme Challenges

PACA’s ASAMA programme has faced numerous challenges, not only because of the uncertain political situation but also due to factors such as poverty, inadequate financial support, inequity, disharmony and insufficient support from the education system as a whole and others.


Poverty is a challenge to the ASAMA programme. Between 12% and 15% of ASAMA learners see the programme as a means of survival rather than education. This is because it offers the only chance some learners have of eating during the day. If there were no school meals, many learners would not be motivated to attend.

Even when they fall ill, learners prefer to go to school because no one at home will look after them. This is why school meals are an essential support measure for the ASAMA programme. Unfortunately, not all ASAMA classes can offer school meals. Their results are weak compared to those which do.

Inadequate Financial Support

Despite limited finances, PACA and its members continue to serve Malagasy youth. The unit cost of an ASAMA class with 30 learners is estimated to be €5,000 for a complete programme (€2,500 per year without the post-ASAMA level). PACA’s funding, however, is sufficient only to pay ASAMA animators/educators for two months’ work, and schools have to find alternative resources to pay teachers to complete the school year. Despite limited funding, class animators do their best to make the classes thrive. Only those with the best results will be selected by funders. The strategy for mobilizing funding is developed both at local level and at the level of central coordination.

Madagascar’s Adult Literacy Outcomes

The expected outcomes for the period from 2009 to 2015 are to reduce the adult illiteracy rate to 27.5% by 2015, reaching 861,647 adults aged between 15 and 45 and 287,216 teenagers under 15. However, only around 2,500 teenagers have been reached so far, 2,300 of whom are covered by PACA. Some 400,000 teenagers could be reached by 2030 if the literacy upscaling programme is implemented or the education ministry provides every community in Madagascar with a state primary school or secondary school.

Gender Gap

The gender gap in Madagascar’s youth literacy rate (Male: 65.9%; female: 64%) is lower than that of many other African countries. However, the gap remains in other areas, for example in net enrolment in primary and secondary education.


Civil society is not included within a legal structure which protects the defenders of human rights in Madagascar. The Malagasy legal authority is not independent. Thus, civil society may be not effective. The best remedy for PACA is to shape the new generations in the ASAMA schools. The children reached through the programme can also influence their parents and encourage local leaders to demand their rights. Great efforts will be made by PACA through its branches across the country to achieve justice, equal treatment, transparency and evidence of the social accountability.

PACA also faces challenges in terms of using ICTs within the ASAMA programme since class facilities often to not have access to electricity.

ASAMA has been an effective alternative for those learners who left school early and found themselves with low or no literacy skills. ASAMA provides a solution to some of the country’s problems with school drop-out and low student retention.

Lessons Learned

The key factors in making a success of the programme are to:

  • Involve the community in ensuring the success of literacy activities;
  • Establish partnerships with local authorities and support their empowerment in delivering grassroots activities;
  • Recruit high-quality, committed animators/educators to ensure the success of literacy activities;
  • Distribute food in deprived areas as an incentive for learners, thus helping to ensure that goals are achieved;
  • Identify support measures for impoverished target populations where the usual motivations are sometimes not enough to guarantee that the defined objectives will be achieved;
  • Use communication, literacy awareness-raising and other forms of non-formal education, which are often more effective than formal schooling and have tangible outcomes;
  • Contribute actively in all long-term multi-sector strategies and holistic inter-ministry action planning to give teenagers an equal chance to gain decent, sustainable employment.


The ASAMA programme has been financed by the Malagasy Ministry of Education, DEPA, NGO Taksvärkki, BFV Société Générale, Foyer Philosophique, and the Mahamasina Rotary Club. The Ecole Normale Supérieur Fianarantsoa, UNESCO and the UNDP have also contributed to the programme at various points since its inception.

According to PACA, literacy and formal education should be an affair of the state because education should be free and compulsory. However, education and literacy should be everyone’s concern. For this reason, PACA has decided to raise awareness among members to generate funds through annual contributions and to advocate across all departments of government, including population, defense, MEETFP, education, agriculture, farming, health, water and forest, environment, and culture, as well as with private partners.



Mme Voahangy Hanta Mialy Soa Ratiarison
President of PACA

A-69 Antananarive 102 – Cité Akany Sambratra – Madagascar

Dr Jean Baptiste Rakotozafy Harison
Literacy and education programme expert
Professor (HDR) of the University of Fianarantsoa-Madagascar

For citation please use

U. Hanemann (Ed.). Last update: 27 August 2015. Action for Inclusive Education in Madagascar (ASAMA), Madagascar. UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning. (Accessed on: 10 December 2023, 14:56 CET)

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