In a fascinating map of racial and ethnical tolerance published by the Washington Post in 2013, Burkina Faso was Africa’s champion. More than 60 different ethnic groups were living peacefully together thanks to a balanced attention to each of them, which is a rare phenomenon in this 21st century world.
Strongly attached to the principle of state secularism, Compaoré paid great attention to maintaining balance and preserving harmony in a country peopled with 62% Muslims, 23% Catholics, 7% Protestants and 7% Animists. The Global Peace Index, the world’s leading measure of national peacefulness and absence of violence in 162 countries, ranked Burkina Faso amid the 5 best African countries from 2008 until 2014, leaving the other African countries far behind. After his departure, the country’s statue dropped 40 ranks in the Global Peace Index, from 48 in 2014 to 88 in 2016.
Burkina Faso succeeded by promoting the inclusive participation of traditional and religious leaders of all different ethnic groups and beliefs to policy programs and society issues. State schools were secular, but private schools became increasingly confessional.
In 2014, more than 60% of private schools were madrassas. Considering the madrassas as an important pillar for reaching universal education, the Compaoré administration put into place a program (PREFA) to enhance quality education at these schools, while ensuring the respect of sex-equality rules and Burkinabè values such as tolerance and the rule of law. The Islamic Development Bank (ISDB) was a major partner of the PREFA program as well as traditional chiefs and religious leaders of the Muslim community in the country.
Since 2014, Human Rights lessons have been a mandatory part of the curriculum in the nation’s primary schools. Also, Compaoré always carefully looked after the preservation of a relatively well-balanced sharing of government and administration positions among ethnic groups. A good listener, Compaoré’s policies reflected concertation and inclusive decision-making as a philosophy of governance which made him a figure widely recognized as a respected regional peacekeeper and Africa’s conflict mediator.