INTRODUCTION TO THE PROJECT

Talibés are children who study in daaras from a very young age under a Koranic teacher. While some teachers have made subsequent efforts to manage more rationaly their daaras, most of them do not still charge the students' for their studies, food or accommodation, nor do they receive government support. Instead, many Koranic teachersforce the children to spend time begging in the street as a means to fund the hours they spend learning to recite the Koran. The children are poorly educated and socially ill-equipped for future life. While some daaras are based in towns and provide Koranic education for students of other formal schools, most of the children attending daaras are from remote rural areas, with some trafficked from neighboring countries. Far from their parents and villages and living in squalid conditions, these children are particularly vulnerable to disease, malnourishment and are often threatened with physical and emotional abuse if they fail to meet the established quota from begging.

To address this issue, different solutions have been initiated by the government, the Koranic teachers’ community, civil society etc.

· The State of Senegal has initiated various projects for the daaras. Such as the "Daara/family life Education" project, the project "Introduction of trilingual education and vocational training into the daaras", the project "Support for the modernization of the daaras" (which is still struggling to be executed), the project "PAQUEB/Daara", "the program for the construction of modern daaras", the implementation of inspection of the daaras and child protection units, and the modification of the orientation law, with the introduction of religious education in schools, etc.

· Some traditional daaras have also begun a process of modernization, through the creation of better organized 'Koranic boarding schools', with an improvement of their physical and sanitary environment, the adoption of programs similar to the "modern daaras" ,or formal schools (preschool, Elementary), and the adoption of teaching methods based on the TIC etc

· Simultaneously to these processes, structures and management issues of the daaras protocols have been established: setting up of collective modern daaras, of the Associations Federation of Koranic teachers, of the partnership for the retrieval and rehabilitation of children in the street, etc.

· Alongside the daaras actors and public authorities, the Senegalese civil society, often moved by the problems of this sector, especially the "begging of the talibés", has tried to make its contribution. In particular, through associations of supporters or NGOs, whose results have so far been rather mixed. This is largely due to misunderstandings between the latter mentioned (i.e associations and the State) and the religious circles, which are often very critical of their approach, considered essentially as "begging" daaras, and who do not seem to value their entire educational, cultural, and spiritual dimension. Misunderstandings that fuel mutual prejudice and distrust, while perpetuating a status quo that is detrimental to the entire nation

In view of all these past and current initiatives, it seems increasingly clear that sustainable and structural solutions to the problems of the daaras cannot be found without a more active involvement of the Senegalese population on a whole, at all levels. An implication based above all and primarily on the socio-cultural and religious springs of the Senegalese nation who alone is able to overcome misunderstandings and brings endogenous solutions in the long term.

In this sense, Sufi religious communities (or confraternities), which regroup the overwhelming majority of Senegalese and whose role in the social, cultural, educational, economic and political life of the nation is no longer in need to be demonstrated , cannot be sidelined in any viable strategy in the assistance of the daaras. A commitment that is all the more justified given that the social problems posed by certain daaras, such as the begging done by young "Talibés" in urban areas, are very often attributed to the overall responsibility of religious leaders (designated by the generic term "marabouts" ) And that the primary and original mission of the confraternities consists of instruction and education. In view of such a responsibility, letting other entities (NGOs, international associations etc.) try to take charge of the problem of the daaras, instead of the religious communities, is an anomaly that needs to be corrected

It is this awareness which justifies the existence of KHIDMA / DAARAS