02.09.2013 - UNESCO Office in Dakar

Binetou Thior: Don’t give up school as I did!

Binetou Thior dropped out of secondary school but now she wants to help other women to gain literacy. © UNESCO/Anne Müller

The story of Binetou Thior, 21, is different from that of other women in Soucouta, a small fishing village on the west coast of Senegal.

With a timid voice, she tells about her schooling and how she wants to help other women to gain literacy.

Binetou Thior went to primary school and despite repeating several classes, she managed to get into secondary school. But then she quit after 7th grade when she got married and started to work in a hairdressing salon.

“My husband wanted me to continue but I preferred to stay at home, taking care of the household and my children,” she says. She already has two, a toddler and a baby in her arms.

Want to help other women

But education remains important to her, which is why she joined a group of some 30 women in Soucouta, who were learning literacy as part of the UNESCO-supported literacy programme for girls and women in Senegal (PAJEF).

"I want to participate and help the other women to read and write, even the people who are living with me, in my household,” Binetou says.

She is one of few literates in her village, and people turn to her to send and read text messages on their mobile phones:

“If someone needs to write something, they ask me to do it,” she says.

She also understands and speaks French, which is most useful to interact with tourists, Soucouta is next to Toubacouta, an important tourist spot in Senegal and part of the Saloum Delta, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Don’t give up!

“The years that I spent in school are important for me, I know how to read and write, and compared to the other women in my village it makes a huge difference,” she says.

When asked if she would like to convey a message to young girls in Africa, she replies without hesitation:

“Do not drop out of school, no matter how hard it is, do not give up. Finishing your studies must be your number one goal, marriage comes after … and stays away from boys, they are dangerous!”

About the PAJEF project

UNESCO’s Regional Office in Dakar is coordinating a literacy project for girls and women in Senegal called PAJEF in French).

Senegal is one of the ten countries in Africa where over half of the adults are illiterate. The majority of these illiterates are women. Launched in January 2012 for a two year period, the project aims to improve access to education for 40,000 neo-literate and illiterate women aged 15 - 55.




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