The first function of this study by Ms. Jeanne Moulton is to provide such a descriptive introduction to the Animation Rurale concept and experiment. The concept itself is succincly summarized in Chapter II, which can serve the reader as a single introduction to how the system is theoretically intended to work. The historical context in which it evolved and the two principal African examples of the program in practice are presented in Chapters III, IV, and V. And for the student of this field, there is a critical review of the literature in the Appendix.
As the French are fond of noting, in practice there tends to be the paradox of "plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose." Indeed, if the change intended by Animation Rurale involves standing educational business-as-usual on its head, it is important to know why in fact so much of the business continues as usual. An understanding of the reasons for this may help future planners to solve problems that need solution if the paradox is to be avoided. For instance, how can a bottom-up program orientation be developed in a setting where initiative and control traditionally come from the top-down, where a new power base from below can be seen as threatening to the political and administrative order? How can a participatory, learning-by-doing pedagogy be encouraged in a situation where program personnel and participants are accustomed to an educational climate where knowledge is seen as being academic and coming from above, and where the most substantive rewards are received for traditional behavior or certificate-oriented learning? Or how can educationa programming of this type be integrated with other regional socio-economic development activities when the timing of action and locus of authority differ among various administrative sectors?
The second function of this work, then is to analyze the factors affecting the performance of Animation Rurale. In her conclusion the author evaluates the assumptions underlying this approach, incorporating both the critiques of others and observations of her own derived from the study. In addition, she suggests some of the pre-conditions that would seem necessary for such a strategy to be effective.
This is one in a series of publications by members of the Center for International Education who have been working on problems related to nonformal education. We wish to share it with other colleagues in the field in the belief that it provides access for the English reader to an important but neglected example of an educational strategy for rural development. It is presented in the hope that such laudable efforts to bring education closer to the head and hands of the learner can be strengthened by constructive analysis.