Special Causes: Project Bright For Senegal

24 Nov

Project Bright for Senegal implements after-school solution to Senegal’s illiteracy problem

 The Republic of Senegal, in West Africa—is about 76,000 square miles long and has an estimated population of about 13 million people. Its capital is Dakar, and the climate there—extremely tropical. Fish processing, phosphate mining and petroleum refining 7AwV3HlcBTp31lYepRykF1rXtJXO_aGDXb6Ksb-WxwSQM78AXfnUiZ-ebBVNB2ZOVxp3oJ5pAjhf4HjjzIryeK70=w443-h332-ncare a few of Senegal’s major industries; and sugarcane, cotton and mango are some of its admired cash crops. Most Senegalese are Sufi Muslims and French is their official language, but what many of you don’t know is—Senegal is plagued with a severe illiteracy problem.

“Despite government and international efforts, students continue to perform poorly on many standardized tests,” said Ousmane Tounkara, founding father of Project Bright for Senegal—a nonprofit organization that maximizes every possible resource—or resources that can be used effectively to provide a way out for many economically disadvantaged people living in Senegal, and within Africa as a whole. “Across Senegal, approximately 690 second-grade students were examined for proficiency in literacy, and out of the 690 students tested—twenty percent failed to read a single word correctly—most of them averaging only 22 words per minute. Only five students were able to read and answer comprehensive questions about the test material.”

But as Tounkara continued his informative speech, addressing a room full of donors at a recent fundraiser in September, an all too important question surfaced—what exactly was the reason behind, 138 second-graders—not being able to read a single word correctly?

According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Dakar, “Learning to read and write is a fundamental right. Yet, 38 percent of African adults (some 153 millions) are illiterate, with two-thirds being women. Africa is the only continent where more than half of parents are not able to help their children with homework due to illiteracy. Adult literacy rates are below 50 percent in Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Ethiopia, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Gambia; and only one percent of the national education budget—for most African governments—is earmarked to address the issue of literacy.”

Therefore, Tounkara—wisely not relying on the Senegalese government to combat illiteracy in the classroom—has taken matters into his own hands, and with great determination—he has pooled together his resources to fund Project Bright for Senegal, which will present students with the capability to improve their classroom education at home—a place where Tournaka believes there’s insufficient interaction between parents and developing children because the parents are also educationally deprived.”

“Many parents are unable to help their child’s learning development—due to a lack of their own schooling,” said Tounkara. “This factor is an extremely vital component to Senegal’s educational development. The learning experience a student receives at home will greatly affect their ability to excel in the classroom.”

So—to help combat illiteracy, Project Bright for Senegal will provide economically disadvantaged students with educational tablets, which will contain—proven learning materials that will aid students in making academic improvements in reading, writing and mathematics.

“Our goal is to allow students to learn at their own pace—in the comfort of their own home,” said Tounkara with confidence. “The tablets will serve as an intimate afterschool program, catering to each student’s specific academic need.”

Project Bright for Senegal plans to initially target students in uptown Dakar, and ultimately—help students throughout Senegal. There’s no magical formula to eradicate illiteracy in Senegal—or in any other country, but because of nonprofit organizations like Project Bright for Senegal—there is still hope that maybe one-day—all Senegalese second-graders will be able to read and write efficiently.

For more information about Project Bright for Senegal, or to make donations towards fighting the threatening advances of illiteracy in Senegal, and within Africa as a whole—please visit Project Bright for Senegal’s website at www.mouvementpas.org. Thanks again for choosing to be the change that you would like to see in the world, and in conclusion—I would like to end this informative article with Mel Blanc’s famous catchphrase, “That’s All Folks!” Thanks again for making the world go round, and always remember that (P) Positive, (E) Energy, (A) Always, (C) Creates, (E) Elevation (PEACE).

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