UNESCO World Heritage Kunta Kinteh Island and Senegambian Stone Circles: World Heritage Education

The Gambian Centre for Arts and Culture empowered students at six schools with targeted educational activities that highlight the universal value of the sites.

The programme

The aim of #SOSAfricanHeritage is to contribute to preserving independent and sustainable organisational structures at African World Heritage Sites and Biosphere Reserves with the participation of civil society as well as to secure spaces dedicated to education for global citizenship, sustainability and cultural diversity.

All projects

Kunta Kinteh Island and Related Sites are significant historical testaments to the diverse encounters between Africa and Europe along the Gambia River and as such have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2003. The history of these encounters stretches continuously from pre-colonial times to the independence of The Gambia in 1965. In particular, during the period of the West African slave trade, the island of Kunta Kinteh and its related sites played an important role. They document both the beginning of this dark chapter in African-European relations and the abolition of the slave trade. The island was also the starting point of early European expeditions along the Gambia River into the African hinterland.

The UNESCO World Heritage Site "Senegambian Stone Circles" consists of four large groups of stone circles. They are part of a unique abundance of more than 1,000 monuments stretching along the Gambia River in a band 100 kilometres wide and 350 kilometres long. The four groups Sine Ngayène, Wanar, Wassu and Kerbatch comprise a total of 93 stone circles made of laterite columns as well as numerous burial mounds and tombs. Together, the stone circles and the burial mounds form an extensive sacred landscape that was created over a period of more than 1,500 years by a wealthy, highly organised and sustainable society.

Restrictions due to the pandemic

In The Gambia, schools were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic from April 2020 to January 2021. This affected over six million students. Not only did they lose direct contact with their teachers, but they also lost important learning time, as no digital teaching substitute was offered.

During the school closures, there were also no visits to the World Heritage Sites. This means that the teaching of important knowledge about cultural heritage and the importance of protecting the sites was interrupted.

Remedy through teaching materials and role plays

The project targeted students from six schools located near the two World Heritage Sites. Girls Were particularly addressed - two thirds of the participants in this project were female.

The social studies textbooks for grades 5 and 9 in The Gambia contain little material on Kunta Kinteh Island and Related Sites, as well as on the Senegambian Stone Circles. Therefore, with funding from the #SOSAfricanHeritage programme, the Gambian Centre for Arts and Culture developed worksheets, crosswords, spelling competitions and supplementary reading materials about the unique value and multi-faceted past of the World Heritage sites. In addition, through site visits, role plays and small research projects, students learned more about the history and traditions of their own and other cultures, about heritage conservation and its importance for cultural diversity and also for tourism. This was not only to close learning gaps that arose during the pandemic, but also to sensitise the students in the medium and long term to the value of the two World Heritage Sites as well as opportunities for participation. In this way, the foundations were laid for young people to continue to work for the protection and preservation of their heritage later on.

The project built on activities carried out as part of last year's funding through the #SOSAfricanHeritage programme: The tour guides trained in 2020 took over some of the educational activities 2021.

The consortium

On the initiative of the Federal Foreign Office and the Goethe-Institut, an International Relief Fund was set up in summer 2020 to provide rapid support to cultural and educational organisations abroad during the Covid-19-Pandemic. With its special support programme #SOSAfricanHeritage, the German Commission for UNESCO is part of the Relief Fund consortium.

The International Relief Fund

The project


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