Monday, October 16, 2017. Earlier this week, ASE had the honor of hosting Mrs. Carolyn Logan, deputy director of Afrobarometer, for a guest lecture on trust and political parties. Afrobarometer is a Pan-African, non-partisan research network that conducts public attitude surveys on democracy, governance, economic conditions, and related issues across over 30 African countries.

Since 2005, ASE’s flagship institute, IREEP, has been Afrobarometer’s core partner for studies conducted in Francophone Africa. Mrs Logan visited ASE with Afrobarometer’s executive director, Professor Emmanuel Gyimah-Boadi, with the goal of improving the Afrobarometer process and interests for survey rounds 7 and 8 through collaboration with the ASE-IREEP team.

Prior to her departure, Mrs. Logan held a presentation for students on the ASE Campus. She first spoke about Afrobarometer, the organization’s history, methodologies, and results. Subsequently, she presented her working paper on citizens’ attitudes toward opposition parties in Africa. Her main finding was that while the trust gap for opposition parties has decreased in past years, gaps remain large in countries with volatile political situations and conflict. After the presentation, ASE students asked a variety of questions, ranging from the purpose of the opposition party, to the role of freedom of speech in determining trust, to whether the sample size was representative of the population. One student inquired about challenges Afrobarometer had faced, and how they overcame them. The discussion concluded with a question about the role of gender in politics, and whether the gender of the party leader affects public perception and trust.

Friday, 22 September 2017. Last week, Dr. Azizou Chabi-Imorou kicked off the first academic seminar of the year. Dr. Azizou Chabi Imorou, Ph.D is the Deputy Head of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at University of Abomey-Calavi (UAC) in Benin. He is one of the top researchers at LASDEL (Laboratoire d’Etudes et de Recherches sur les Dynamiques Sociales et le Développement Local) and the former ambassador of Benin in Iran.  

His presentation “Teachers' Unions and the Selective Appropriation of Public Service Reforms in Benin” gave a historical overview of the Beninese educational system from 1945 to the present. The research methods were qualitative and included interviews with relevant actors, observation of  various formal and informal meetings (i.e. the Trade Unionist General Assembly), and archival research. Fieldwork took place in cities such as Cotonou and Parakou and in rural areas such as Karimama.

Dr. Chabi-Imorou focused on the Nouveau Programme d’Études or NPE Reform, the fourth and the last reform in Benin Educational system since 1990. In 1994, the National Commission on Education decided to adopt a Canadian model of education, which began with an experimental phase in 18 pilot schools with technical and financial support from USAID. However, trade unions raised their voices against reform; due to the potential misuse of the funds and the contradictions between the objectives and implementation. Dr. Chabi highlighted the urgent need for ongoing educational reform, especially in regards to teacher training programs.











September 15th 2017. Last week, ASE organized a professional development seminar entitled “International Relations and Migration: What Development for Africa?” The seminar was led by Jean-Francis R. Zinsou, former ambassador and representative of Benin to the United Nations and former chair of the Global Coordination Bureau of Least Developed Countries.

Mr. Zinsou began the presentation by contextualizing the phenomenon of migration in Africa, the driving factors of migration, and the difference between voluntary and forced migration. He also highlighted the implications of migration on countries of destination, transit, and origin; namely, he highlighted the importance of the migrant remittances and their potential to foster economic development in origin countries. 

Subsequently, Mr. Zinsou discussed his involvement in setting up a Remittances Observatory in Benin as an extension of the International Organization for Migration. He also explained his involvement with the government of Benin in the creation of new policies to enhance the mobility of Africans across the region and continent, and in efforts with financial institutions to channel remittances into concrete development projects. To conclude, the seminar was followed by a Q&A session where students posed a variety of questions about migration and development in Benin and across the continent.    

Ibilola is a Nigerian-American, born in Lagos and raised in Sacramento, CA. This past May, she graduated from Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service, with a major in Culture & Politics and a minor in African Studies.

At ASE, there's a lot she hopes to accomplish this year. Primarily, to fully launch the Institute of Financial Management as a competitive consulting arm of the university. She also hopes to expand her research capabilities in the economic, social, and political realms, and help the university in whatever capacity needed. Ultimately, she just hopes to grow professionally and personally.”

Ibilola accepted the fellowship with ASE for several reasons. She claims, “I am extremely interested in Professor Wantchekon's vision of a world-renowned economic institution on the continent - I'm very passionate about the ‘For Us By Us’ ideology. I also wanted to return to West Africa after spending time in Togo and Nigeria.”

So far, Ibilola has felt that ASE is truly a great institution that's passionate about helping their students and the community around them. She commented, “Everyone - from faculty to the students -has been extremely welcoming and I'm excited to work on various upcoming projects, including business plans and an impact-evaluation research project. Benin is also extremely beautiful. I've visited family in Porto-Novo and I'm excited to see more of the country, especially up north.”

Originally from Seattle, Sarah graduated from Middlebury College in 2014 with a degree in history and minors in Secondary Education and French. After earning her teaching certificate for social studies, she has worked in the United States, Germany, and Japan.

Sarah’s mission at ASE is to support the Pre-Doctoral Fellows as they prepare for the GRE and TOEFL, and to teach first year English. Outside of the classroom, she will work with the Academic Affairs Department and the Communications Team. She is also eager to support ongoing education-related research projects.

When asked why she accepted the fellowship with ASE, Sarah claimed: “ASE has the energy and dynamism of a start-up, but the outcomes and international recognition of a well-established institution. I was immediately attracted by the chance to learn from—and support—the school’s continued growth. I’m excited to work with students from all over the continent and to hear their perspectives. Beyond that, I hope to learn more about West African history, brush up my French skills, and maybe even learn a little Fon.”

So far, she has also enjoyed her time in Benin: “My very first meal in Benin was of pounded yams, which was a great introduction to the local foods. I’ve really enjoyed exploring Calavi and Cotonou, and am finally getting used to the motorcycle taxis. The highlight has been meeting the people of ASE, especially the members of the volleyball team. I look forward to the year ahead!”