Dimby RAKOTO : « TFM’s projects are not extracurricular activities »


What can you do to the next generation of your country? In its early beginning in 2014, this was the first inspirational question that birthed the actual waves of actions of Teach For Madagascar (TFM). Legally constituted as an association in September 2015, we thank the project manager of TFM Dimby Rakoto for accepting to be interviewed by Madagascar Today.


Madagascar Today: There are many areas where you could have operated here in Madagascar such as health or nutrition... Where does the intention to create an association with an educational purpose come from?


Dimby Rakoto : To answer your question, it’s better to go back to the history of the association. In the beginning, we, the actual team, were all graduate students who studied in our final year at the Catholic University of Madagascar and our English professor, Tinawati SOESIANTO who is also the founder and CEO of the association, who has inspired us not to only think about our own selves but also the country and people. Our first collaboration was with an existing association, which is SEPA (Sport and Education Pour l’Avenir) which allowed us to lead the education section. That was our starting point of the education concern. We worked as a team and this had led us further in how to conduct our focus and mission as an independent association that ambitiously engaged in the education movement.


TFM can be considered as a young non-for profit association. What projects have you undertaken until now?


We have been working to perform new project each year. Our Research and Training Department is responsible to conduct active research and training at which the result is crucial to prepare a project launch. Now, we have four main projects under our Children Department, which are « Four in One », a 20-hour program of Environment – Character Building – Health and Hygiene -- English, ‘‘ Vaky Boky’’, a 12-hour reading program, and « Arts & Crafts », a 16-hour program, and the Street Project, 16-hour program for the street children and youth. We require every candidate who passes three recruitment stages to participate in the Street Project as the completion of the recruitment process.


Concerning your projects: reading books, Arts and Crafts ... , can we consider them as « extracurricular activities » ?


No, certainly not. Our projects are often misunderstood and seen thus by people but we should behold beyond the names. Although realized during extra hours, TFM projects are not extracurricular activities, they are expressly intended to

impact lives and bring changes. Through the Reading Book project, we inspire children to draw lessons from books while we encourage them to increase their Malagasy, French or English vocabularies. You know, we don’t only teach, we educate the mind and encourage the heart, we see in those children the leaders of tomorrow. We long to spring in them the possibility of being « someone » regardless of their social status and make them see the importance of education for a better future.


Most of existing association in Madagascar is generally working for the poor and the Street kids project you’ve mentioned proves it. However what makes your projects different from other association’s initiatives?


What you say is true, nevertheless, TFM projects are not only for underprivileged kids, besides, we try to never use the word « poor » to qualify those kids and not use « poverty » as the only criteria we base on the selection of the beneficiary schools. So yes, we work in schools located in low areas where large percentage of kids is underprivileged but our objective is not to focus on them only. Furthermore, our vision for this 2016 is to reach a minimum of 2 public schools per administrative district in the whole Antananarivo. The difference of TFM lays also on its objective to imply all Malagasy for the successful conduct of its projects in terms of funding. We invite all Malagasy citizens to take part in this movement. We particularly expect Malagasy entrepreneurs and companies to invest in the great cause we work for. We prefer to use the word “invest” because education is an investment for the future of Madagascar.


Can you tell more about the TFM 2016 action plan?


For TFM, 2016 is a year of a big leap forward. For the first time, starting in January, TFM will reach region of Madagascar in Vatovavy Fitovinany and will offer some programs for Kelilalina High School. This expansion is a result of our new partnership with Friends of Madagascar (FOM), a NGO established by Dr. Peter Balasky in 2004. We will impact approximately 200 students with more than 60 programs. The programs include career orientation, leadership skill, computer and technology, tourism section and academic counseling to help students following the appropriate career that suits each of them. We are to prepare a scholarship program to enable student to pursue their study after getting their Baccalaureate degree.


In June 2016, TFM will launch a campaign called “I Act” which will target students from all the public and private universities in Antananarivo. This campaign aims to sensitize Malagasy students on the importance of education. Moreover, “I Act” will be a big youth movement, a time for Malagasy young people to act for Malagasy kids either pupils at Public Schools or street kids.


Many people surely want to become member of your association. What are the steps to follow? Do you only select young people to avoid any generation conflict?


Due to the high level of quality of work we want to bring, we avoid wanton entry of our Fellows. Therefore, TFM Fellows are thoroughly selected before joining the team. It’s the reason why we have three stages in our recruitment procedure. We recruit competent, devoted, motivated, those who have the heart for education. If recruited, each Fellow is required to participate in a minimum of 2 projects per year. There is no maximum age to become a TFM member, we even have 45 years old member although the majority is younger. We currently have over 70 Fellows with different background. As our work expands with a long-term vision to operate fully in Madagascar, we continue recruiting. There are four recruitment sessions per. Any interested candidates can visit our website for any details. Many positions are available.


If my mind serves me well, there are many organizations in the world bearing the same name as TFM like Teach for India, Teach for Belgium, Teach for America ... is Teach For Madagascar related to these ones?


Organizations you have mentioned are branches of the International Teach for All Association, forming a solid international network that has transformed communities and nations. The significant and long lasting changes they have shown in the world are stunning. TFM is totally independent and was not created under this network. It’s not our priority for now.


Any message you want to send to Madagascar Today readers and Malagasy people?


Development is a matter of vision and action. Many things have been written about development, education, etc. Many researches have been conducted in the field of development. All of them will remain simple theories and literature without any action. We invite everyone to act according to his or her capacity. You can begin little, change things in a little scale but you will see that it will produce big results. Then, we invite you to join us and to be part of “I Act” in June 2016.

Published on Friday, 19 February 2016 04:54