UN Day Oct. 24th Online Webinar

Sunday 24 October 2021  |  11:00 AM – 12:30 PM EDT  |  Webinar

UN Day Talk: Let Us Learn Madagascar

The Zonta Club of Ottawa, Canada invites you to an inspiring talk “Let us Learn Madagascar” showcasing a core component of ZI’s mission — the provision of a quality education to girls and young women in Madagascar. Details and registration information below. We look forward to having you join us!

What, How

It takes place on UN Day, October 24, 2021 at 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. EST/EDT time via a Zoom talk. Andrea Clemons, Education Specialist UNICEF Madagascar, will provide up-to-date information on the project including the jarring challenges presented by the pandemic and climate change. Nonetheless, they’ve adapted and carried on with this vital support. We’ve attached the event poster for your review.

Set up to Benefit Madagascar

Simultaneously you will also send a much needed lifeline to buttress ZI’s efforts in Madagascar — 100% of the proceeds from the ticket sales will go directly to support this initiative.

So. . . 

you can accomplish TWO wonderful things with ONE easy click on the “Purchase Tickets” button below!  

  • Obtain up-to-date information on a key ZI initiative
  • Signal your accolades and support to administrators and recipients of “Let us Learn Madagascar” for their courage and resilience in the face of trying circumstances.

Click here to register!

It’s a perfect way to reinforce Zonta’s message of hope and possibility of a better world! Once again, we look forward to having you join us!

About the Speaker

Andrea Clemons has been an Education Specialist at UNICEF Madagascar since 2010. She sees her work in Education as more than a job. She is committed to the Education of children and young people (people of all ages, really!) in all aspects of her life. At UNICEF, Andrea is responsible for coordinating and ensuring the quality of UNICEF’s support to the Ministry of Education to improve access, retention and quality teaching and learning in schools. She is also the adolescent and gender focal point for the Education section. Her work primarily supports catch-up classes to out-of-school children, inclusive education, teacher training and supervision, curriculum and materials development for preschool through lower secondary school.

She has coordinated the Let Us Learn Programme (LUL) for the Madagascar Country Office for the past several years, working closely with Child Protection, Social Policy and Communications 4 Development colleagues to ensure a comprehensive package of support to all beneficiaries of the LUL programme. The LUL programme has benefitted over 300,000 Malagasy children and adolescents since 2012.

Before coming to Madagascar, Andrea was a Professor of Education at the University of Southern California and Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, where she prepared teachers to teach in underserved communities. She has a Ph.D. in International and intercultural education policy and administration, a Master’s degree in literature (from the University of Toronto!) and a Master’s degree in Teaching English as a Second Language. She is also a Fulbright scholar, a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer and an honorary board member of Free to Run (a non-profit organization that provides opportunities for girls and women in areas of conflict to participate in outdoor sports and life skills).

 UN Day Talk: Let Us Learn Madagascar


 Climate change and the pandemic have wreaked havoc in Madagascar. Please help us continue this vital support to over 300,000 Madagascar children helped so far. Tickets $25.00 CAD. Ask your friends and colleagues to register, too!  

 September 6, 2021

In her recent message, International President Sharon, shared Zonta’s concerns over climate change and advised that in June Zonta had released a “climate change statement that highlights key ways that we as an organization can address the issue”.  She stresses that this is not a political issue, but a humanity issue which  impacts on our International Service Projects.

So how does this impact on Let us Learn Madagascar project that we have been following over the last months:
– Prolonged drought has left more than 1.3 million food insecure people in need of social protection.
– The drought and the added impacts of COVID-19 put children at risk of missing school due to inadequate school infrastructure, lack of water, sanitation facilities and learning equipment and due to parent’s lack of financial resources.
– Where Zonta is working, torrential rains from Tropical Cyclone Seroja caused dangerous landslides and the worst flooding in 40 years which have presented significant challenges to in-person and community-based initiatives to address gender-based violence.
– Zonta’s partners at UNICEF USA are determined to ensure that women and girls are not forgotten in times of crises.

The BBC World Service (Africa) also reported that Madagascar is on the brink of experiencing the world’s first “climate change famine” with tens of thousands of people already suffering catastrophic levels of hunger and food insecurity after four years without rain.

With many other climate related catastrophes let’s not forget our fellow Zontians who may have been in the path of destruction caused by “Ida” and had suffered damage caused by “Katrina” 14 years earlier and those where unbelievable damage has occurred with forest fires in so many parts of the world.

We are all feeling the impacts of climate change in one way or another – so let’s review the Zonta “climate change statement” and find a way to address the issue locally.


Aug 17, 2021

LET US LEARN MADAGASCAR is a project that Zonta International is partnering with UNICEF to provide vulnerable girls with opportunities to realize their right to an education in a secure and protective environment.

Last month I set out the main components of the program and some of the achievements.  By the end of Phase 11, more girls and boys had access to post-primary education and the capacity of the education system to offer better quality teaching and learning was improved.

We will now look at Phase 111 which covers the  2020-2022 biennium and an additional US$500,000.
The specific objectives are to:
– ensure that more children, particularly girls, who drop out at higher levels in the post-primary level, have access to post-primary education and stay in school;
– ensure that Madagascar’s education system has the capacity to offer quality teaching for enhanced learning outcomes.
Expected outcomes:
–  around 100 children will learn in two new classrooms;
–  100 schools will receive pedagogical material annually;
–  100 school principals will be trained;
–  100 follow-up monitoring visits and activities will be conducted;
–  750 households will benefit from conditional cash transfers;
–  700 children will be reintegrated into school after attending catch-up classes;
–  3,500 children will have increased knowledge of life skills;
–  eight school districts will be supported to implement a code of conduct against violence in schools and to develop a functional intake and referral mechanism for child victims of violence and exploitation;
–  114 children’s clubs will be established to implement plans of action to raise awareness in their schools and communities about the issue of violence;
–  1,600 children at risk and victims of violence and exploitation in schools and communities will benefit from medical, legal or social support.
– activities were slowed down by frequent turnover of Ministers and directors at the Ministry of Education;
– at the start of the COVID-19 outbreak in Madagascar, all program activities except for emergency response activities were paused;
– COVID-19 reduced the time available for conducting catch-up classes from the standard  two months to two weeks;
– due to travel restrictions and other priorities at the start of the 2020-2021 school year in the COVID-19 context, the planned training on pedagogical supervision for school directors was not possible.  This challenge also impacted planned child protection activities, in addition to security issues in certain districts vulnerable to violent attacks by cattle thieves.
The next report will from the “field” at our UN Day October 24th event.  We will hear firsthand the positive achievements and how the challenges have been met.
Watch your email for the registration information which you will soon be receiving and start thinking who of your friends and colleagues would be interested in participating.  We would love to share what Zonta, in cooperation with UNICEF, has achieved in the LET US LEARN MADAGASCAR project.

Fri, Jul 30, 9:27

In her latest Zonta News, International President Sharon shares how she is inspired, with the Olympics underway, by seeing more than 5,000 female athletes coming together to show commitment to reaching their highest levels of personal potential, something Zonta wants for all women.  She continues “These athletes serve as a reminder of our power to overcome hurdles that might stand in our path.  Through our international service projects such as  Let us Learn Madagascar, Zonta is dedicated to providing girls with opportunities to dodge these challenges”.

UNICEF’s report “Getting into the Game” shows that education focused sport for development programs can address the challenges education systems face by contributing to positive education outcomes, such as student engagement, attendance, their overall enjoyment in school and improved behaviour and relationship with teachers and peers.

As a result of the Let us Learn Madagascar project more than 125,000 children in all public lower secondary schools have benefitted from sports equipment and learning  materials.  A sports field was built as part of the construction project at  a secondary school with the support of Zonta.

As a footnote, Canada’s 11 medals to date have all been won by female athletes – but this involves a larger number when one takes into account the rowing eights and pairs, the synchronized diving and swimming relay team.

Let’s stay inspired and support the Let us Learn Madagascar project.


July 23, 2021

Last month, I introduced you to the LET US LEARN MADAGASCAR project that Zonta International is partnering with UNICEF to provide vulnerable girls with opportunities to realize their right to an education in a secure and protective environment. 

From 2016 through 2020, Zonta International contributed US$2 million to the project and has announced an additional US$500,000.

In Madagascar, one in four children aged 6-10 does not attend primary school and one in three children age 11-14 does not attend lower secondary school.  Let us Learn is an integrated education program that is creating opportunities for vulnerable and excluded children, particularly girls.  The project is focused on reaching out-of-school children, expanding girls’ education and improving quality outcomes for learners.

The main components of the program are:

Investments in infrastructure providing safe spaces for learning

Cash transfers giving families options that allow girls to stay in school

– more than 1,500 households have received the equivalent of US$30 every two months for every child that attends school. 
Life skills classes making a difference for girls and boys
– giving students the opportunity to talk about the most pressing issues they face as adolescents.
Child protection clubs improving awareness of child rights among students 
– discussing impact of violence  at home and in school including issues of sexual violence and rape through, in some cases, song and dance.
Junior reporters clubs teaching students valuable communication skills
– working with support staff from a radio station to learn interview techniques and how to research topics such as the environment, importance of education, child marriage and sexual violence.
Some highlights from the period September 2019 through March 2020:
– 22 school directors and four teachers were trained on child rights and child protection;
– 33 children clubs were established to improve community understanding of child rights and protection;
– 150 children who experienced violence received care and support services;
– 1,156 children in 825 households were enrolled in the conditional cash transfer program;
– 1037 children benefitted form catch-up classes, 963 of whom were reintegrated  in public school;
– 45,000 students and 2,471 teachers in all public lower secondary schools received bilingual Malagasy-French dictionaries.
But with success there are also challenges: 
– frequent turnovers within the government;
– ongoing debates on the status of reforms in the education sector plan;
– limited national budget allocated to education.

Then there has been the impact of COVID-19

As of April 2020, schools and non-essential services have been shut down.  To support the continuity of education for children, a portion of Zonta’s funding is being redirected to:

– printing and distributing learning materials to approximately 45,000 children for independent learning;

– a “Back-to-school” campaign targeting all 60,000 primary and lower secondary schools in the country, including catch-up classes for more than 12,200 lower secondary students unable to return to school after they reopen. These program activities will help UNICEF preserve the gains that have been made for girls through the past years. In Madagascar, where digital learning solutions are less accessible, reading and writing materials can be used to reach the most vulnerable.

My next instalment on Let us Learn will bring us up to date on the 2020-2022 biennium goals.


June 24, 2021

You may have noticed this poster In the May edition of Zontacler and wondered “WHAT IS THIS ABOUT AND WHY IS IT OF INTEREST TO ME”.

So often, we are focused on our most worthwhile contribution to the local community, we tend to forget that we are part of a much larger organization which with its service projects has worldwide impact.

This  email will be the first of a series that shows the impact of one such project LET US LEARN MADAGASCAR so that by the time October comes around we will be familiar the project and be excited to hear a progress report “from the ground”.

First a reminder of Zonta International’s Vision:

Zonta International envisions a world in which women’s rights are recognized as human rights and every woman is able to achieve her potential.

In such a world, women have access to all resources and are represented in decision making positions on an equal basis with men”.

Zonta is passionate about providing life-changing opportunities for women and girls through international service and is dedicated to achieving gender equality in education by supporting scholarships, fellowships and awards and by partnering with agencies of the United Nations and other recognized non-governmental organizations.

One such project in cooperation with UNICEF is LET US LEARN MADAGASCAR.

By providing vulnerable girls with opportunities to realize their right to an education in a secure and protective environment, Let Us Learn aims to reduce poverty and ultimately empower Madagascar’s next generation of female leaders.  The project is an integrated education program that is creating opportunities for vulnerable and excluded children, especially girls.  It is focused on reaching out-of-school children, expanding girls’ education and improving quality outcomes for learners.

From 2016 through 2020, Zonta International has  contributed US$2 million to UNICEF USA for the project and has announced an additional commitment of US$500,000.

Next in this series will be “what has been done to date in Madagascar”.

I hope you will come to share my enthusiasm for ZONTA INTERNATIONAL projects as well as those of the Zonta Club of Ottawa.


UN Committee Member



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