Madagascar: Urbanization and Rural Development


Antananarivo - photo by K. Wright

The program has three different homestays: in Tana, the country’s capital; in Mahajanga, a medium-sized port town; and in a rural village in the vicinity of Betafo in the Vakinankaratra region.

This diversity of homestays offers students a rich variety of perspectives on — and vantage points within — Madagascar. Living in both urban and rural settings allows students to develop an understanding of a range of interrelated themes specific to urbanization and rural development in Madagascar. In each location, students experience the ways in which the extended family is the foundation of Malagasy society.

Our homestay families also serve as important program partners; these contacts increase students’ access to experiences and opportunities within each community.

Antananarivo (Tana)
The program's  longest homestay is in Tana, the capital city and program base. Host families range from lower middle-class to upper-income households and from newly established to multi-generation families. Students have the opportunity to speak French on a regular basis with their Tana host families and are also encouraged to practice their Malagasy.

As the largest city in Madagascar, Tana hosts a range of activities and cultural offerings, including music, dance, theater, and sporting events. Tana is home to many associations and social clubs devoted to specific interests.

Students live with a Tana host family for the duration of their stay in the capital.


Mahajanga (Majunga)
Students live for two weeks with families in the port town of Mahajanga, on the country's northwestern coast. In addition to playing an important role in the economy of the Boeny region, the town is noted for its ethnic and religious diversity. Due to the hot climate, schools, offices, and most businesses often take a lengthy break during the middle of the day. Unlike people in the highlands, those of Mahajanga tend to be much more active during the cooler evening hours. Students have the opportunity to speak French on a regular basis and also are encouraged to practice their Malagasy.

A local association — Malagasy Mahomby — serves as our program partner and helps coordinate homestays and other program-related activities in Mahajanga. Malagasy Mahomby focuses on community development and education projects.

Homestay family in Betafo

Students have a rural homestay lasting six nights near the market town of Betafo, located in the Vakinankaratra region. Antsirabe, the regional capital, serves as the program base for this portion of the program. As minimal French is spoken in the area, the rural stay is an excellent opportunity for students to practice their Malagasy language skills.

This homestay offers students an indispensable opportunity to learn about everyday life within a rural Malagasy community. Conditions in the rural homestay are very basic; homes do not have running water, electricity, or telephones. Many students find it to be one of the most challenging and rewarding portions of the semester.

Other accommodations during the program may include hostels, private homes, educational institutions, or small hotels.

Costs Dates

Credits: 16

Duration: 15 weeks

Program Base: Antananarivo

Language Study: French,  Malagasy

Prerequisites: 3 semesters French

View Student Evaluations for this program:

About the Evaluations (PDF)

Fall 2013 Evaluations (PDF)
Spring 2013 Evaluations (PDF)
Spring 2012 Evaluations (PDF)

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