Community Empowerment Program

  • P Project/Program

A Active

Key Information

The CEP is a three-year, non-formal empowering education model that uses a human rights-based curriculum to reinforce the skills and knowledge of partner communities and empower them to lead their own development. By bringing communities together to discuss and define a values-based vision for their future, the approach embodied in the Community Empowerment Program (CEP) catalyzes establishment of a new social equilibrium based on shared values and social expectations. When empowered with new community-designed norms and the knowledge and skills to apply them, communities will also shift individual and collective behaviors to support the rights and well-being of those who had previously been left on the sidelines of local decision-making, namely women and youth.

The CEP is comprised of two modules - the Kobi and the Aawde. The Kobi (meaning to prepare the soil in Mandinka) modules include democracy, human rights and responsibilities, conflict resolution, and health and hygiene. The Aawde (meaning to plant the seed in Pulaar) modules include literacy, numeracy, project management, and SMS messaging. The CEP is led by a facilitator of the same ethnic group as the participant village, who lives in the community for the duration of the program. It is conducted entirely in local languages.

Community Management Committees (CMCs) - majority-female, democratically elected governance bodies at the community level - are formed in the course of the Community Empowerment Program and are tasked with implementing the community’s vision for the future, which is developed during the CEP. Every Community Management Committee has a list of activities and outcomes they proudly share, all of which link back to their collective vision of well-being. These groups remain active many years after Tostan’s intervention ends, in many cases more than a decade.

Lead Implementing Organization(s)


Sub-Saharan Africa

Gambia, The, Guinea-Bissau, Senegal

Government Affiliation

Non-governmental program


1991 -


Not applicable or unknown

Ministry Affiliation



Not applicable or unknown

COVID-19 Response

Not changed

Areas of Work Back to Top

Education areas

Other skills

  • Financial literacy
  • Life skills/sexuality education
  • Rights/empowerment education


  • Civics education
  • Literacy
  • Numeracy

Cross-cutting areas

  • Community sensitization
  • Early/child marriage
  • Economic/livelihoods (including savings/financial inclusion, etc.)
  • Empowerment
  • Female genital mutilation/cutting
  • Gender equality
  • Masculinities/boys
  • Other cultural practices
  • Social and gender norms and beliefs
  • Violence (at home, in relationships)

Program participants

Target Audience(s)

Boys (both in school and out of school), Community leaders, Fathers, Girls (both in school and out of school), Other community members - female, Other community members - male


Not applicable or unknown

School Enrolment Status

Some in school

School Level

  • Lower primary
  • Upper primary
  • Lower secondary
  • Upper secondary
  • N/A

Other populations reached

  • Community leaders
  • Fathers
  • Mothers
  • Other community members - female
  • Other community members - male
  • Other family members
  • Parent-teacher associations/school management committees
  • Religious leaders
  • Spouses/partners

Participants include

Not applicable or unknown

Program Approaches Back to Top

Community engagement/advocacy/sensitization

  • Community mobilization
  • General awareness-raising/community engagement

Life skills education

  • Gender, rights and power

Reducing economic barriers

  • Financial literacy training

Social/gender norms change

  • Other community mobilization activities

Tutoring/strengthening academic skills

  • Literacy - outside the classroom
  • Numeracy - outside the classroom

Women's empowerment programs

  • Empowerment training

Program Goals Back to Top

Education goals

  • Increased literacy
  • Increased numeracy
  • Increased school completion (general)
  • Increased school enrolment (general)

Cross-cutting goals

  • Changed social norms
  • Improved maternal, newborn, and/or child health (MNCH)
  • Increased advocacy/civic engagement
  • Increased agency and empowerment
  • Increased knowledge of rights
  • More equitable gender attitudes and norms
  • Reduced child marriage
  • Reduced intimate partner violence
  • Reduced poverty/increase household well-being

Additional Information Back to Top

Primary Contact

Tostan International