Learn to swim

France - Ma Guyane Nage - 14.09.15 - 31.12.16



French Guiana, France’s largest department, is situated in South America. Much of its territory is covered by the Amazonian forest. It has a dense river system and an Atlantic coastline. French Guiana is, therefore, considered to be a “land of water”.

Learning to swim is an absolute priority because drowning is the first cause of accidental death in Guiana and concerns people of all ages (Étude pédiatrique du Centre Hospitalier de Cayenne, 2007-2010).

Infrastructures exist in urban areas but are almost non-existent in the countryside and along the rivers. Sixty percent of 10-year-old pupils leaving primary school do not know how to swim and this proportion is higher in schools in isolated villages. Moreover, each day, some 5,000 pupils travel to school by pirogue (figures provided by the Guiana Rectorate 2014).

The Ma Guyane Nage” project has been promoted by the French Guiana Education Authority and the Regional Directorate of Youth, Sports and Social Cohesion and is supported by the Public Interest Group for Induction and Professional Development Programmes and the Regional Swimming Committee. It aims to teach swimming to 3,000 children (ages 6 to 12) from isolated areas using portable pools and roving teams. The Ma Guyane Nage” project is supported by the Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation; between 14 September 2015 and 31 December 2016, it plans to educate about 3/5 of children who are at risk daily to the dangers of drowning in French Guiana through its “Swim Safely” programme.

In order to lessen the fear associated with water, the pupils will be encouraged to take a water-themed creative approach by drawing or writing tales.  The children will also learn about the rich aquatic life in order to learn how to preserve it.

The installation of portable pools in the heart of these villages and the organisation of water festivals, during which diplomas will be handed out, will draw the attention of a greater number of people to the importance of water safety. 

©Académie de Guyane