“Talibé means “student” or “religious follower.” As with daara, terminology is complicated. The word talibé applies to almost every Senegalese person, as a “follower” of a certain marabout, or religious guide. The term also refers to boys who are students in the thousands of clean, upstanding Quranic schools in Senegal. Yet the term is also widely used, almost disparagingly at times, to describe the young boys from Quranic “schools” who are seen begging on the streets.”
-M. Wells, Human Rights Watch
Education Can Decrease Child Exploitation
With your support we will fund a primary boarding school in Dakar for children suffering from exploitation decreasing the number of children in abusive daaras (Quranic schools) and living on the streets. The school will create a safe environment to foster growth and learning, utilizing a holistic approach to education. The school will follow the blueprint of the 'modern’ daara where children learn both theology and secular subjects with an emphasis on STEM. The school addresses human rights abuses such as forced child labor and child trafficking as well as the education gap. In addition, increased literacy rates and primary school completion among vulnerable children.
Child exploitation in Senegal continues to persist. The U.S. Department of State approximates 30,000 young boys are forced to beg on the streets in Dakar; many suffer preventable diseases, malnutrition, physical, and sexual abuse. To end child exploitation the education gap must be narrowed in Senegal as well as regulating and transforming the daara education system.
Forced child labor is not unique to Senegal, however the exploitation and abuse of children in Dakar deserves international condemnation yet it rarely makes headlines in the U.S. The largest obstacle for challenging child exploitation will be encouraging government and religious leaders to enforce anti-trafficking laws. Most trafficking is done within Senegal although transnational trafficking does occur from neighboring The Gambia, Mali, and Guinea-Bissau. Partnerships with activists like Issa Koyaté, Islamic leaders, and educators to develop a curriculum that is representative of Senegal will be crucial to reducing the number of children exploited and living on the streets.
Your generous support will provide the necessary funding to operate our boarding school for the academic year 2018/2019. Our project is scalable and every dollar raised will go towards ending child exploitation in Dakar. The formation of a Board of Directors for the school will raise and allocate funding while day to day operations will be run by the community in Dakar. Our outcomes include: decreasing child begging and exploitation in the streets of Dakar, Senegal as well as an increase in literacy rates among the target population of children served.
I lived in Dakar for three years. A dear friend once told me she was born in England, but did her growing up in Israel. I did my growing up in Dakar. My experiences on the coast of West Africa shaped much of who I am today. I would say I became a new person but that’s not accurate. I became who I am. I can still see the colorful markets, the smiles, hear the conversations. I see the boys on the street begging for money. Today I give them 200 or 300 CFA, their daily quota, equivalent to less than one U.S. dollar. Tomorrow I give them a liter of Kirène water. I see the struggle and the suffering alongside growth and vibrancy. I see the hope in tomorrow.
Help me end child exploitation in Dakar today. Peace and stability begins with education.
Images © 2017 Lauren Seibert/Human Rights Watch
Documentary by Andrew Oberstadt Produced by Hadiel Mohamed