World Wide Watch and Dubai Port World say No to illiteracy in Senegal: Every child should have the opportunity to attend school

June 8, 2015 OPINION/NEWS

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By

Alpha Jallow

Located 200 km from the Senegalese capital of Dakar on an island in the Saloum, the small village of M’bam was the convergent point of people from all walks of life as this weekend a new model school was inaugurated.

The school financed jointly by a Swiss NGO and Dubai Port World in Senegal to the tune of more than twenty million CFA francs.

This edifice which is imposing on outer fringes of this small Serere village finally opened its doors to children of all categories without regard to race, religion and creed.

In his opening remarks at the well attended ceremony over the weekend, the CEO of Dubai Ports World Mr Alassane Diop said his institution is not only confined to making business and gaining profit but also plays a pivotal role in societal development. He said that for many years now Dubai Ports World has been contributing effectively to sensitive sectors of national development such as the educational and Health sectors.

“Sitting on an empire of wealth when your people are going backwards and hungry does not constitute making progress in a business establishment. Although the central role of Dubai Ports World is making business, we also care to the needy and destitute Senegalese” CEO Diop opined. With its narrow streets, its small thatched-roof mud houses, a scattering of trees, and especially children, busy talking and playing on the way to school, M’bam village is like so many others in Africa.

It was in this small village and for these children that Humanium decided to support the World Wide Watch project. The project, planned for a six month period, consisted of building a school, including both a nursery and elementary school of classrooms including toilet facilities and quarters for teachers.

Access to education was the priority in this village, as 30% of children between the ages of 3 and 6 do not attend school because their parents cannot afford to send them. There is a school which welcomes around 100 students, although the high cost of paying the teacher, which is around 1000 CFA francs per month (approximately 2 Euros), effectively discourages access to education for children from disadvantaged families.

World Wide Watch was developed based on the initiative of the parents and village chief. Community involvement was reinforced with the provision of 1400 m² of land to complete the project. Building the school is the first phase of a programme aimed at sustainable development as well as public awareness of environmental problems. The plan includes the installation of solar panels as well as a borehole in the near future.

The President and CEO of World Wide Watch Flavio Lucchesi jokingly said the concept of this project came as a result of his marriage with a very beautiful young lady from the village. He went on to say that since the marriage took place, he regularly visited the community and therefore felt the need to build the school.

Moreover, he said the project will reinforce work which has already taken place, adding that a library, which being run by the children themselves, had been in operation since 2013.

He reiterated his partnership with Dubai Port World saying that such partnerships should be encouraged for the social benefit of local communities like M’bam.

 

 

 

 

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Alpha Jallow

Alpha is a freelance journalist from Dakar, Senegal, having worked for the BBC African Radio service, West Africa Democracy Radio (WADR) and Radio France Internationale (RFI).

 

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