Experiential Learning Initiative (ELI) Africa is an American 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization operating in sub-Saharan Africa. ELI Africa works with local communities to run hands-on “experiential” learning projects for underprivileged youth. During the summer of 2010, we brought several ELI Africa Fellows to Mauritius as a pilot project. In 2011, ELI Africa built on the success of the previous year by opening the first ELI Africa Education Center in the village of Pamplemousses.
ELI Africa’s mission is to work collaboratively with local communities to run experiential learning projects for underprivileged youth, who have had little or no access to educational support. Through our emphasis on hands-on educational techniques, we hope to give students access to practical knowledge and skills without resorting to rote memorization or repetition. By promoting free, locally relevant education programs that encourage community involvement and foster social integration, ELI Africa seeks to provide a creative, cost-effective, and sustainable alternative to traditional paid tuition programs.
What We Do
ELI Africa is active in a range of activities to achieve our mission. Our current activities are outlined below:
ELI Fellows Summer Program
Our summer program represents the core of our organization’s abroad activities. Yale University undergraduates from a wide range of backgrounds may participate in the following manner:
- Running targeted experiential learning projects for underprivileged youth
- Working with members of the local community to arrange internships, apprenticeships, and outreach activities to create a sustainable bond between the children and the community.
Our pilot summer program that included six Yale undergraduates and recent graduates was launched in June of 2010.
ELI Africa provides and facilitates the awarding of scholarship funds to qualified underprivileged youth that have demonstrated considerable talent and interest to continue on with their education.
How We Work
In all of our projects we work by engaging children in a way that allows them to find their own motivation to learn the material. We do not believe in static memorization and repetition exercises. Instead we engage the children actively with the material and make them take ownership of and feel responsible for their work.
Our work is predicated on the belief that education should be tailored to local conditions. Before we design projects in a target country, we listen to local educators and educational institutions, to government and non-government bodies, and, most importantly, to children themselves. Guided by this research and in close collaboration with local educators, we design and implement projects that respond to local needs.
Experiential learning has proven to be a highly effective means of providing practical capacity building at the individual and community levels, and as such is the cornerstone of our program.
What is Experiential Learning?
“Experiential learning” is learning by doing. It involves active engagement in the learning process through creative projects and initiatives that allow for direct learning unmediated by the formal academic process.
Experiential learning entails an active dialogue between participants that goes beyond traditional “teacher” and “student” roles. It is a process that provides the learner with access to knowledge, skills and practice through direct experience and through a continuous cycle of action and reflection.
Through our own experiences and research, we have learned that innovative, hands-on, and locally relevant education initiatives can form creative, confident, and conscientious youth who grow into adulthood with the ability and desire to play positive and active roles in their communities.