Jocelyne Yennega Kompaore

Ashoka Fellow
Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
Fellow Since 2008


This profile was prepared when Jocelyne Yennega Kompaore was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2008.
The New Idea
Jocelyne is working to overturn West Africa’s current exclusive communication system where knowledge exchange especially between rural and urban spaces in topics such as education, health, politics or history, happens only between literate French speakers. The perspective and experiences of the vast majority of West Africa’s rural populations are not being captured. To address this problem, Jocelyne has created a new profession in which individuals serve as “synthesizers” of rural experience. This is the first step in an ambitious effort to disseminate knowledge from and within rural areas across Burkina Faso and throughout West Africa. Advances in technology and training in communication now enable a “synthesizer,” armed with a laptop and trained in research and publication, to become a rural community’s professional editor and publisher. This individual records information, history, and local experience while closely working within the community so that citizens can co-author their own learning materials. The resulting products—often books or audio cassettes, and sometimes both—tend to be of interest to a niche audience, such as a village or group of villages, an association or a range of institutions, and government or citizen organizations interested in the development of that region. The end product is distributable information of high quality published at an affordable price.

Jocelyne’s process of co-authorship is appealing to local organizations because it engages communities in group learning that involves a high level of popular participation. It also shifts the political lens away from external organizations and onto local groups. As a result, communities rely less on outside experts and instead develop their own local literature based on knowledge from their own communities. They also for the first time can present their knowledge and their experiences to broader populations, particularly city dwellers.

The long-term goal of Jocelyne’s work is the development of a cohesive but practical African identity. Rather than focusing on history and customs, she seeks to engage a pan-African audience that is becoming increasingly aware of the importance of including the voices of rural people in their decision-making. Through her work, Jocelyne hopes to ground a new generation of city-raised children in their African heritage while also eliminating the prejudices city dwellers have about people who spend their lives in rural areas.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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