Tostan is a US 501(c)(3) nongovernmental organization. Based in Senegal, West Africa, Tostan is dedicated to educating and empowering Africans who have had little or no access to formal schooling. They work primarily in rural regions to provide basic education and increase community engagement in projects related to health and hygiene, child welfare, human rights and democracy, the environment, and economic development.
Tostan's Founder and Executive Director, Molly Melching, began working in Senegal in the 1970s. Over 30 years later, Tostan remains committed to community-led grassroots development through the hundreds of African staff members who work in collaboration with volunteers, interns, partners, and supporters around the globe.
Recognized as a leader in non-formal education and community development, they are now expanding their operations to meet increased demand across Africa.
Tostan works with thousands of communities in eight countries across East and West Africa. Their holistic education program, known as the Community Empowerment Program (CEP), has been recognized as a highly effective model for bringing about social change. The program, which covers topics such as human rights, health and hygiene, literacy, and management skills, is based on Tostan’s belief that development is most effective when led by communities themselves. The CEP provides trainings that empower participating communities to apply their acquired knowledge through established social systems to create positive and lasting change.
Tostan continuously works to improve and develop the CEP through feedback from participants as well as through new partnerships and projects, leading to the development of innovations that harness technology, tap into social networks, and meet the specific needs of communities in order to spur sustainable social change.
The Community Empowerment Program (CEP)
Tostan’s CEP is an award-winning, 30-month non-formal education program that is currently being implemented in communities in eight African countries. It is a holistic program based on human rights and is comprised of two phases, the Kobi and Aawde. The CEP provides trainings that enable communities to manage their own development and to take the lead in effecting social change.
Ranging from cutting-edge SMS/text message and solar power technology to community-produced awareness-raising films, Tostan's special projects, which have emerged out of their commitment to finding innovative solutions to development issues, are incorporated into and run in conjunction with the CEP in communities across Africa.
Using knowledge and tools gained through the CEP, communities have led efforts that have produced sustainable and inspiring results, which include the abandonment of female genital cutting (FGC) and child/forced marriage, the promotion of grassroots democracy, the empowerment of women and girls, malaria prevention, the protection of the rights of children, and much more.
Millennium Development Goals
Tostan’s approach is based on respect for human rights, and their mission is to work towards human dignity for all. As such, many of the results produced by Tostan and their partner communities help to create the type of positive change called for by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), broad development objectives aimed at improving the protection of human rights around the world.
Where They Work
Since its incorporation in 1991, Tostan has implemented its Community Empowerment Program (CEP) in thousands of communities in ten countries in Africa.
Currently, Tostan has operations in:
Previous versions of the Tostan program have been implemented in Burkina Faso and Sudan.See more