By Sheriff Conteh
Institute of Social Reformation and Action ISRA, on 25th December 2022, successfully did a sensitization workshop for Marabouts and caregivers, based Child Rights at the Regional Education Office in Brikama.
Institute for Social Reformation & Action (ISRA) which is a local NGO working with children and Marabouts in the Majalis since 2009.
Her partners include ChildHope (CH) an international charity established, whose vision is a world in which all children enjoy a safe and secure childhood, free from injustice, violence and abuse.
ChildHope has been working with Institute for Social Reformation & Action (ISRA) since 2013.
Approximately, 18,000 children in The Gambia live in traditional Quranic education schools, ‘Majalis’, run by religious teachers ‘Marabout’. These are traditional, unregulated, residential education centres with no entry or maintenance fees. Parents give children to the Marabouts to provide them Quranic and traditional education.
However, the Majalis provide poor standards of education, accommodation, nutrition, hygiene, sanitation, and healthcare. Weak child protection mechanisms increase the risk of neglect, abuse, and trafficking. Most children also end up leaving the Majalis lacking a basic primary level education, which significantly reduces their employment prospects, often confining them to poverty. These factors also seriously increase their vulnerability to abuse and neglect.
In partnership with ChildHope and support from the ALMT funding, ISRA is working in 4 Majalis in the West Coast Region to improve the living conditions and quality of education of 270 children and young Persons with a view to effectively transit into mainstream primary education. The project will directly benefit 270 CYP through the literacy and numeracy education.
It is designed that the project will, in 2023, enable an estimate of 270 Children and Young Persons (CYP) in the ‘Majalists’ to acquire and improve basic literacy and numeracy to enhance their transition to formal education programmes, CYP in Majalis will be protected from harm and abuse, and will be improved hygiene and sanitation conditions, The basic needs (food, education and health) of children living in the Majalis will be covered and their living conditions will be improved, as a result of the livelihood activities and increase in income and Government as duty-bearers become aware of the living conditions that children endure in the Majalis, commits to increase the resources to support and improve the quality of education and the protection of children living in the Majalis.
The one-day training was based on sensitizing 45 stakeholders from the Four (4) communities of Wullinkama, Bakari Sambou Ya and Siffo. It was held in Brikama to primarily increase stakeholders’ knowledge on the provisions of Minimum Standard for Child Care Residential Facilities.
The training was facilitated by the staff of ISRA and the Department of Social Welfare and attended by the ISRA Executive Director Mr. Phoday Kebbeh.