While Senegal has attempted to address some of its huge number of impoverished families with healthcare funding, many of its children are still suffering in school. Human Rights Watch reported on March 19 that many children in Senegalese Quranic boarding school sare living in unsafe conditions and are exploited by their teachers, who force the children to beg and often beat them severely when they do not return a set quota of money. “For at least 50,000 children in Senegal, economic exploitation is masquerading as religious education, as children are forced to beg for long hours to benefit the teacher, and are subjected to severe physical abuse for failing to meet his quota,” said Matt Wells, author of the report.
The government has drafted new legislation to address the problem, but critics say that more oversight is still required; there remain only two full-time inspectors for Quranic schools, of which there are thousands throughout the country. “If we’re going to inspect or even oversee inspections across Senegal, we need more personnel, we need more equipment,” said an official in the inspectorate.
The report was issued a year President Macky Sall pledged to look at the problem following a fire in one of the school that killed eight boys. The legislation proposed would gradually increase regulation and oversight for the schools. “Senegal has long had good laws on the books to address forced child begging, but government will to enforce them has been consistently lacking,” said Wells. “President Sall’s government has many allies in waiting among religious authorities and the broader population. He should swiftly seize the opportunity to put an end to the system of exploitation that threatens to leave thousands of kids with an education only in how to survive on the streets,” Wells added.
Creative Commons Love: Global Partnership for Education on Flickr.com