The world made a promise to the children 25 ago at the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child: « We would do everything in our power to protect and promote their rights to survive and thrive, to learn and grow. » But despite these overall advances to respect the children’s right to education, many children still do not really have access to it. This is also the case for some children in Baraka. Is poverty a reason to deprive children of their right to go to school? We will show you the real facts on the education of children living in Baraka.
Baraka is a poor neighborhood located in Senegal in Dakar in the town of Sicap Liberté. In this area most of the population is illiterate, which causes a small percentage of school children. Towards the 1990s with Mr. Jacques Bougnicour, Baraka had a crib and a classroom to supervise children 5 to 10 years. Unfortunately this was a great loss with the death of this great man which hampered the education of children. Even though there were some children who were studying outside Baraka, most of the children spent all their days playing and strolling around due to lacking supervision. After his death in 2002, the children did not have the opportunity to learn anymore.
Then there was Hope 87 who continued this educational chapter, and they even put us in touch with Mrs Ohoven, who is a good woman who loves children. On her first visit she saw for herself that many of them had no occupation during the day, which lead her to do everything in her power to help these underprivileged children. The with the support of the Senegalese government, Mrs. Ohoven and Hope 87 managed to build a school. It was a great joy for the entire population when the elementary school Liberté 6 / Baraka opened its doors in October 2012. This was a big thing for all the parents and for the whole population of Baraka. We all celebrated, all of the women expressed their joy by dancing, children were jumping around.
It is a school of six classrooms. At first there were only a few students, but now the school has 212 students and five teachers. We recognize that there’s reason for optimism because there is an improved standard of education, but to date the faculty of this institution is facing enormous difficulties.
We met Mr. Fall, the principal of the school Baraka / Liberté 6. According to him, this is the only school in Dakar without running water. Students have no real chance to sustainable courses, since the lack of all kinds of materials is so prevalent (benches and tables, library, teaching material, copier and printer, etc. …). The Principal even offers courses because a teacher was assigned to another facility and there’s still no substitute.
We all know that parents have a vital role in educating their children, and this mission is not limited to enrollment in a school. Most of the parents in Liberté 6/Baraka do not even care to register their children for school, since they live in such precarious conditions that their main concern is to feed them. Next to the child who goes to school, dealing with all the problems mentioned before, there will be another child who was not so lucky and who spends all his time begging in the streets, because his parents lack the means and awareness for the importance of education. And there are many others like him. For some, this is due to the fact that their parents have neglected their birth certificates and a bunch of other factors, for others it is simply that their parents do not show any effort to pursue their schooling.
Despite so many problems that hinder the education of our children in Baraka, solutions are possible for the long run; they can be achieved with support for the elementary school and a greater awareness of parents about the importance of education. However, it will also be necessary to provide vocational training for those who have already abandoned their school curriculum. We ask for help from all the goodwill that can help these children; they are the future of Baraka.
Despite all those challenges in the education of children in Baraka, there’s is hope and progress. A few bright young adults from Baraka have successfully completed their higher education. They now motivate their little brothers to follow their examples.
This text was written by Ousmane Ly, Aissatou Sow and Dieynaba Ba.