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MEPOA brings communities and museums closer together
The aim of MEPOA (the Museum Education Project of Africa), which was co-ordinated by ICOM under the auspices of AFRICOM, was to develop museums' role as informal educators and to find ways to help them become better-integrated with community life. This project was implemented in the framework of the special UNESCO project "Popular education programs in West Africa Museums".
In the initial phase of the programme, in 1998-1999, a workshop on outreach education in museums was held in June 1999 in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, with participants from all African regions, to develop innovative education programme concepts for museums in Africa.
"Pottery of Burkina Faso - Women's Skilled Hands"
As pottery has been considered as a link-establishing factor between village communities and museums, the "Pottery of Burkina Faso - Women's Skilled Hands" project (June 2001) was selected as the second phase of the program. Given the importance of pottery in the province of Gaoua, in Burkina Faso, the Museum of Civilisations of Poni was chosen to house the exhibition and run the project with communities in the area. The project was co-ordinated by Ms Ouassila Souissi, Education Officer at the National Museum of the Bardo, Tunisia, in collaboration with Burkina Faso's Director of Cultural Heritage, Mr Oumarou Nao. It resulted in a pottery exhibition.
Objective: To design a pilot project which could be transported to other African countries to build bridges between museums and village communities, to provide an opportunity for the people living in such communities to find out about their own heritage and to help them realise that it is through their activities that heritage is kept alive.
Development: To help professionals set up similar activities in other countries, a kit has been produced which explains how to set up the project, with the aid of drawings and slides, and contains video and audio cassettes to accompany the exhibition.