Education for All: promoting education in internally displaced communities in Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso has been subject to terror attacks since 2015 in several parts of the country, with a cluster of violence in the northern and eastern regions. These attacks pose a serious humanitarian crisis, resulting in over a thousand deaths and more than a million internally displaced individuals so far. According to IOM, the majority of displaced persons are women and children who have enormous needs, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Particularly, the children seem to pay a steep price in terms of trauma and lack of quality education. Indeed, although they have access to formal education, most children in the camps are no longer motivated to attend school and prefer turning to work in gold mining sites where their safety and well-being are at risk.

In light of these challenges, the project sought to use the captivating wonders of astronomy as a catalyst for positive change. We specifically targeted two sites hosting internally displaced communities, both within reach of the capital city, Ouagadougou.

Through our efforts, we aspired to not only highlight the importance of education but also provide hope in the hearts of these displaced children. Astronomy served as a bridge connecting them to a world of possibilities beyond the confines of their current situation and it has been possible to leverage it to promote education and mental health.


1. selection of IDP camps: Jan-April 2022
2. initial visits to the IDP camps and interviews with children/families: April 2022
3. development of workshops materials: Jan – June 2022
4. second series of visit4s to the camps
5. team preparation & meetings: June – November 2022
6. pre-activity survey: 5 & 6 December
7. project implementation & workshops: 16 – 21 December 2022
8. post-project interviews: January 2023
9. project video: filming and video production (January – March 2023)


  • a built model of the solar system: this includes the Sun and the planets of the solar system, representing the orbits of the planets around the Sun
  • the “Moon in a box”: a representation of the Moon and the light from the Sun, demonstrating the lunar phases
  • paper sundials: a paper cutout of sundials built by the learners
  • the Earth-Sun system: a built model of the Sun illuminating the Earth to demonstrate the day and night phenomenon
  • a project summary video featuring testimonies and opinions of the beneficiaries


evaluation of the outcomes is purely based on the sentiment gathered among the targeted children, their parents and the leaders of the communities. Hard, concrete evidence to support the claims made here can only be obtained at the beginning of the next school year in September-October

  • Enthusiasm around learning: we have effectively sparked the children’s enthusiasm for learning among the majority of the participants. Although it is difficult, at the moment, to put an exact number to the fraction of participants that were genuinely motivated by the project to continue learning, we can confidently predict that a large fraction will seek to continue learning.
  • Stress alleviation: the children were particularly shy and little participating on the first days of the activities, but were progressively open and joyful during the later days and after the project
  • Awareness about the psychosocial state of the displaced children: because of the special emphasis we put on the importance of mental health in this particular context of violence, there has been a collective awareness about mental healthcare in the IDP camps. Partnering with a team of psychologists, we are still following up on the particular case of a 15-year-old young girl, with excellent grades, who exhibit signs of severe trauma.
  • Motivation for an MSc study: a social science student that we recruited to help out as a volunteer has decided, after the project, to choose an MSc thesis topic related to the education of young children in the IDP camps

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