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Education for all.
In Senegal the Diapalante Community Education Centre welcomes everyone regardless of age or background.
Around 500 people aged between 5 and 50 come to the Diapalante Community Education Centre's free sessions which teach both academic and practical skills.
Diapalante runs classes for talibés, boys, who live in some of the poorest daaras (Quraanic schools) in Senegal. Each daara is independent and the circumstances in which the talibés (pupils) live, their treatment, and the education they receive varies greatly from daara to daara. The boys who come to the Centre do not receive any teaching other than their Quranic studies. Their daaras rely on them begging daily for for their food and income. Their accommodation is very basic (such as a part built house with no doors, windows, electricity or water).
The Centre helps 60 talibes, predominantly older boys, teenagers keen to widen their lifeskills. They learn to read and write in Wolof, their mother tongue, and master essential numeracy skills. A few science activities are mixed in and the boys are always very keen to learn on the Centre’s computers.
For all of the learners, this education will alter their futures. For some it will bring totally new opportunities...
“The door to education was shut for me. Diapalante opened it.” Dam, was a talibé and member of the Centre, he registered in school and passed his baccalaureate, in his 20s.
The Centre's teenage Young Leaders lead after school activities which help hundreds of primary school children understand French, the language used in school. Success in school depends on mastering French and many small groups fill the playground as the children learn French while enjoying games, books and art or craft activities. While the children are having fun the programme is successfully improving their school performance.
Many secondary school pupils struggle to reach their full potential in their school exams, and come to the Diapalante Community Education Centre because of the resources and support it can offer. The level and availability of teaching in school is very varied and success or failure is not always down to the pupil. The Centre isn't a school and has limited resources but by wise planning it is able to be a valued resource for adults and teenagers who want to learn skills and knowledge that will help them support themselves and their families.
Books are scarce in Senegal and textbooks are often shared resources, or pupils manage without them. The Centre is developing a library and encouraging the habit of reading books. Our computers are another valuable learning tool giving free internet access holding an ever growing bank of resources.
Language classes, French (the national language) and English (the international language) are the most popular classes, while a strong Young Leaders programme prepares teenagers for active citizenship and the world of work. The Centre's strong culture of volunteering and social responsibility mean many of our teenage and adult members both learn and contribute to the Centre's teaching.
It is often the adults who feel the most pressing need for help. Many Senegalese adults have jobs that do not provide an adequate income to support a family, leading to constant financial struggle and to long hours of work. The long hours make it difficult to look for other work or gain the skills needed to seek better work. So the Centre operates on a “drop-in” basis offering learners as much flexibility in attendance and learning objectives as possible. Adults need more individual attention than youngsters both because of work commitments and because they are often learning formally for first time or after only a brief period of schooling.
Between 50 and 60 adults are learning English for their work (many are traders). More than 20 learn basic literacy - to speak, read or write in French, Senegal’s official language and about 20 learn computer skills. As some learn more than one subject this is about 75 individuals. This significant increase in adult learners takes us towards our target of helping 100 adult learners each year and is made possible by your financial support.
Makhtar is a motorcycle-taxi mechanic. He is in his late 30s and married with three children. The son of a mechanic he left school at the age of ten to join his father's home-based workshop. Today he very much regrets leaving school so early, and prioritises his children’s education.
Nowadays the situation in Senegal is changing. Makhtar is losing work as more and more organisations require him to be able to read contracts and issue invoices etc to secure their work. He is unable to read, understand and sign contracts which are in French, Senegal’s official language, learnt in school but not a mother tongue. He can speak some French and knows the French vocabulary associated with his work but needs to improve his reading and writing skills. Unable to pay for private lessons, he heard about the Diapalante Community Education Centre about 2 months ago. He now attends 2-3 times a week sometimes for a group lesson but often for a one-to-one session as his learning has to fit around his work. Makhtar is making rapid progress towards his goal as each newly learnt phrase is relevant to his work and contributes to improving his livelihood.
Income generation for women in Mauritania
Mauritania is the country where the Sahara desert meets the Pacific Ocean. This project works with women in a village in the south of Mauritania on the southern fringes of the desert close to the town of Rosso. In these rural villages families make a precarious living herding or growing seasonal crops. When a woman becomes the head of a household (perhaps through widowhood or divorce) the family income is often lost and she and her dependents face poverty and hardship.
This new project will help women who are heads of households to stay within their community and, using skills they already possess, generate a small income for themselves. The first women will receive four pregnant goats and support with the initial feeding bills and veterinary oversight. In return each woman will give each goat's first born kid back to the project. The initial goats and all subsequent offspring are the womans property for her to use to build her small business. The project is being overseen by our partner who is a specialist in livestock health and management in the region.
Thank you for your support which allows us to continue helping people today, tomorrow and into the future.