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Character Education

A Vision for Developing Character through Sports in Cote d'Ivoire

Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire - During my March 15-20 visit to Cote d'Ivoire to explore possibilities for offering character education curricula, we met with the president of Zady Academy, which offers general education, teacher training, and athletic programs. The teachers and coaches work together to give their students a good moral education through sports. They have around 850 students from ages nine to 18 years old, and they are especially interested in implementing a character education program based on moral values and principles.

UPF's Sub-Regional Director Adama Doumbia and national Secretary National Eugene Ahodjo and I discussed various possibilities, especially the potential for character education in the context of football.

We spent two days in Gagnoa, north of Abidjan, where the Academy's facilites are located. There we visited a sports field and were warmly welcomed by officials and many young people. I spoke to them about the need to develop good character and personality during their school years so that they can eventually establish strong families and become good leaders in their communities and nation. This was followed by football matches and handball competitions.

There were professors in the audience as well as two chiefs of major tribes. They honored me with a title of chief and gave me a name in their language. They were pleased to learn that Cote d'Ivoire's ambassador to France, H.E. Mr. Pierre-Aimé Kipré, and ambassador to Unesco, Mrs. Odette Yao-Yao, have received appointments as Ambassadors for Peace.

This region is the birthplace of the president of Cote d'Ivoire, Laurent Gbagbo, and the famous football star Didier Yves Drogba Tébily, who plays for Chelsea in the Premier League and is the captain and all-time top scorer of the Cote d'Ivoire national football team. I proposed holding a sports festival in connection with the independence day celebrations August 7.

We returned to Abidjan to make further plans, meeting with a Unesco official to discuss possibilities for cooperatiaon.

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