18 July 2006

A little about the competition

29 June 2006 – Tonight I visited Musa and Fana Ceesay, whose 5 year old son Mam Sheikh has left the school’s nursery class, and is now studying at a dara (madrassa) in Darou, a km away from us in Senegal. So I dropped by to see if I could encourage Mam Sheikh’s return. Musa and his brother Sheikh, a teacher at Njau’s school, are both well-educated and could help Mam Sheikh, who’s a bright boy, to do well.

Musa was quick to mollify me, however, explaining that after two years in Darou, Mam Sheikh would re-enroll at Njau for Grade 1. His plan to give Mam Sheikh a little grounding in the Koran sounded reasonable enough.

As Musa went on, though, I felt less at ease. He explained that the students spend the morning farming in the school’s fields, then study after lunch. He noted that the teachers are very strict (a strong statement given some of the sadists in DOSE’s employ), and the children don’t sleep on beds (or under mosquito nets) and only bathe once a week or so. Musa said that Mam Sheikh used to be very playful (he is five, after all), but now his demeanour has totally changed. I had to concede that point to Musa, although I haven’t seen Mam Sheikh recently.

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