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School of African Heritage (EPA)
Porto-Novo, Benin


University description (as per official university website)

EPA, which has the status of a non-governmental international organisation, is located in Porto-Novo, Benin. It is a postgraduate university institution, specialised in the preservation and promotion of both tangible and intangible cultural heritage. It trains heritage professionals from 26 sub-Saharan African countries.

It also provides services in the area of the safeguarding and enhancement of African cultural heritage.

Since its creation in 1998, EPA has trained more than 600 African heritage professionals, mounted 3 exhibitions, organised an international conference, published 25 reports, one newsletter, a tourism guide and 8 Web sites, and carried out 4 surveys.

EPA is a self-financed institution which receives support from a variety of funders.

Vision, mission and values
Our vision:

To be a reference in the service of African cultural heritage.

Our vision of museums:

Museums open to a wide public where social problems are raised and discussed; a leisure area for children, young people and adults; media museums, agora museums which mirror Africa's past and present cultures and propose a synthesis of those of the future.

Our mission:

To contribute to the dignity of Africans through the aknowledgment of the value of their cultural heritage.

Our objectives:
Centred on the promotion of immovable and movable objects, as well as the natural habitat which make up the cultural heritage, EPA intends to:

Reinforce the network of African professionals capable of ensuring the conservation and enhancement of cultural heritage
Suggest to African audiences programmes enabling them to rediscover their cultural heritage
Promote the carrying out of socio-economic development projects which include the safeguarding and enhancement of cultural heritage
Contribute to the publishing and diffusion of publications specialised in African cultural heritage

Our values:

A taste for work well done and a constant search for excellence.
Adherence to the ethics as laid down in the Code of Professional Ethics of the International Council of Museums (ICOM).


EPA is heir to the PREMA programme.

1986 - ICCROM (Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property) began the pilot phase of its PREMA programme, the first real programme for the safeguard of heritage represented by collections in African museums.

1990 - A survey of 61 museums in 46 countries revealed in most cases a dramatic situation in African museums. Entire collections were deteriorating without an appropriate response from staff. This meant that a large part of the history of humanity and our creative diversity were likely to disappear.

For 10 years several coordinated actions were undertaken with the aim "of establishing a network of African professionals able to ensure the preservation of African museum collections south of the Sahara and to organise the training of colleagues".

1998 - The PREMA programme evaluation meeting concluded that it had been a definite success; in less than 10 years it had, amongst others, achieved:

the training of a teaching force where the percentage of Africans rose from 5% in 1986 to over 80% in 1999,
the creation of an active network of more than 400 museum professionals in 46 sub-Saharan countries thanks to 30 international and national courses,
large-scale preservation work involving the national collections of Benin, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea (Conakry), Ivory Coast, Madagascar, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
the mounting of eight exhibitions aimed at raising public awareness regarding the preservation of its cultural heritage.

11 November 1998 - In view of the PREMA success an agreement was signed between ICCROM and the National University of Benin by which the Ecole du Patrimoine Africain (EPA) - the School of African Heritage - was created.
2000 - ICCROM and the National Museums of Kenya created the CHDA (Centre for Heritage Development in Africa), in Mombasa, Kenya, on the same model as EPA, to cover English-speaking African countries.

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