19.05.2012 - UNESCO Office in Dakar

100 literacy classes for girls and women open in Senegal

Girls queuing up for the PAJEF literacy classes in late April 2012 © UNESCO

100 literacy classes for girls and women have opened in 7 regions of Senegal (Dakar, Saint Louis, Diobel, Matam, Kédougou, Fatick and Tambacouta).

A team from UNESCO Dakar and the Senegalese Ministry of Education travelled some 4000 kilometers during the last week of April 2012 to launch the classes.

The classes are part of a UNESCO/Procter & Gamble literacy project, launched on International Literacy Day, 8 September 2011.

Under the slogan "Re-write the future", the two-year project aims to educate 40,000 girls and women aged between 15 to 55 in the seven regions.

Mobile phones motivate

"This is the first step. Over the next couple of weeks 100 teachers will be trained to use mobile phones and internet to train young girls and women to read, write and calculate," says Rokhaya Diawara, responsible for the project entitled PAJEF at UNESCO's Regional Office in Dakar.

Some 3000 Senegalese girls and women are expected to benefit from this first phase of the literacy project.

"The girls and women want to learn," says Diawara. She explains that a major motivating factor is mobile phones.

They want to be able to write and read their text messages themselves rather than ask someone in the village to assist them.

Keep your secrets

"One woman told me that literacy will allow her to keep her secrets. Today, she has to ask someone to write and read the SMS for her," tells Diawara.

Another woman said that it costs 100 CFA (0.2 cents) to call which is too expensive, so now she will be able to communicate by text messages.

Other women look forward to learning how to calculate after one of them  discovered that the young man next to her food stall always miscalculated the customers’ bills and put some of the money in his own pocket.

Lessons learned

Rokhaya Diawara says that a briefing note is currently in the making to explain the detail of this first phase of the project and the lessons learned of setting up the literacy classes.

"This is an important to give the government an indication of the various steps and challenges involved in implementing such a project," adds Diawara. 

An international mission with representatives from UNESCO and Procter & Gamble will visit the new literacy classes in late June 2012.

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