In 2017, Transaid teamed up with implementing partners ONG Lalana to deliver the ALFA Project (Aro Loza amin’ny Fifamoivoizana An-tsekoly, meaning ‘education and awareness of schoolchildren on road safety’). Lalana’s aim was to reduce the number of road traffic crashes involving primary school children travelling to and from school, in Madagascar’s capital, Antananarivo.
Children in Antananarivo often travel to school unaccompanied, especially when they reach the 8th and 9th grade (aged 13-15). Moreover, many of these students are responsible for younger siblings on their journey. Children walking to school are at risk every day thanks to increased traffic, a lack of road traffic signs and road markings, and poor safety awareness.
With Transaid’s support, Lalana implemented a programme aiming to educate students and raise awareness in the wider community, through the introduction of curriculum-based road safety teaching and improved road signage and markings around targeted schools in order to tackle the problem from all sides.
Awareness sessions were held for students in the 8th and 9th grade in six primary schools, all of which were identified as particularly high-risk, due to their location near public highways in the city. Working in partnership with non-governmental organisation Amend, Lalana created a booklet endorsed by the local education authority, which included theoretical and practical road safety advice, covering topics such as:
How to choose a place to cross
How to cross the road
How to walk along the road
How to find a safe place to play
Teachers at each of the six primary schools received training on how to deliver the road safety teaching before returning to their schools to run the sessions. Students learnt about potential dangers on the roads and were taught how to minimise these risks using a range of materials such as booklets and posters. Students were then tested on their road safety knowledge, with awards going to the highest scoring pupils. Each awareness session ended with a song and dance to help the children memorise the key messages.
The programme’s scope went well beyond the classroom. Between June and November 2018, three local radio stations were tasked with broadcasting road safety information designed to raise awareness targeting the wider population. In addition, a total of eight zebra crossings and 11 road signs were also installed at strategic points in the vicinity of the six schools to increase driver awareness and provide designated places for people to safely cross the street.
In total 764 students were educated, along with 25 teachers and headteachers trained to conduct road safety awareness sessions. The director of one beneficiary school has already seen the difference ALFA has made, noting that more parents had started sending their children to school unaccompanied, now reassured that they could travel safely by themselves. The teachers involved in the project have also expressed a commitment to continue raising awareness using their new materials, and there are plans in progress to expand the training to more schools in the area.