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Groundbreaking on Senegal School Construction Project
June 16, 2008 - Education and Literacy

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In Senegal, EGCF has embarked on another school construction project through an innovative partnership with Building with Books (BwB).  BwB and Millennium Promise, a non-profit organization that works with impoverished communities, national and local governments, and partner organizations to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), have partnered to bring education and hope to thousands of children in western Africa.
 Millennium Promise and BwB are leveraging resources to provide new schools and make a real contribution to the education and development of West African children. In 2008, BWB will work with Millennium Promise to build another 32 schools in Mali, and in nearby Senegal, the first time that BwB is working in that country.  EGCF is pleased to support the second Senegal project located in the village of Diokoul Wade, in the Northwestern region of Senegal.  Approximately 150 men, women and children live in the community of Diokoul Wade and like so many parts of the country, the community lacks vital infrastructure such as health centers, running water  and schools.  Children's education is not mandatory and primary school classes in Diokoul Wade are currently held in a temporary  outdoor shelter that must be rebuilt at least once per year.  The community received its first teacher in 2006 and currently has only 1 grade. 

The selection of Senegal is strategic.  Youth under age 20 account for 58 % of Senegal's population and the adult literacy rate hovers at 39%, making initiatives like education a key platform for the country's future.  Traditional attitudes about gender roles continue to not place a high priority on educating girls. The quality of education and completion rates, particularly among girls, remain low. Despite the obstacles though, achievement of the Millennium Development Goals may be within reach for Senegal in the areas of nutrition, education and access to water.

The ground breaking ceremony took place at the construction site.  Community members and local leaders attended the ceremony.  In spite of the many difficulties the community faces, community members are motivated to work as volunteers to help improve the access to education for their children.  The new primary school, when complete, will enroll 35 boys and girls and will provide access to grades 1-6.  Please check back as we report out on the school's completion in the next few months.  

BwB engages American youth through in-class and after-school programs in 108 high schools. Students also volunteer in their local communities and help build schools in developing countries. BwB has built over 250 schools in villages worldwide, providing more than 100,000 children and parents with access to education. For more on BwB please visit their website at www.buildingwithbooks.org.