Senegal: Ensuring no school children are left behind
Since 2014, Handicap International has been running an inclusive education project in Senegal in the regions of Dakar and Ziguinchor. One of the project’s flagship initiatives is to provide medical consultations in primary schools for the early screening of pathologies which might lead to a delay in learning or even to the affected children dropping out of education. Adama Awa Ba, 12 years old, is one of the programme’s first beneficiaries.
Adama Awa Ba, a twelve-year old school girl, undergoes a medical visit in a primary school in the Patte d’Oie district of Dakar. | © Jean-Jacques Bernard / Handicap International
Adama, 12 years old, has problems with her sight which for a long time held her back at school. "I couldn’t play with my friends and in class I could never read what the teacher was writing," she says.
Her family didn’t have the financial means to help her. A pair of prescription glasses costs at least between 15,000 and 60,000 CFA francs (around £19 to £78), which is well over what her parents, both small shopkeepers in the Patte d’Oie district of east Dakar, could afford.
Without glasses, Adama had no hope of following her lessons properly. "As I couldn’t understand, I never wanted to go up to the board, I was ashamed," explained Adama. Her marks went downhill. The fear of going up to the board gradually transformed into a fear of going to school. There was a genuine risk that Adama would become completely withdrawn.
Adama is by no means the only child in this situation.
In 2014 and 2015, Handicap International conducted medical visits in 31 primary schools in Dakar to identify school children suffering from pathologies that might affect their academic performance.
Out of the 18,850 school children who attended the consultations, 1,038 were diagnosed with various pathologies. Adama was diagnosed as having a problem with her sight. She was given a pair of glasses by Handicap International, like 150 other children in the same situation.
Adama can now follow her lessons again. "I want to become a doctor to help other children like me," she says proudly!