Proving It’s Never Too Late to Learn in Senegal

”I never thought that one day I would be able to recognize letters so that I could write my own name,” says Yama Seck, a 40-year-old mother of six from the village of Louba, Senegal.

With no school nearby when she was a child, Yama was denied the opportunity to get an education in her youth. And she’s not alone. Today, there are 773 million illiterate adults across the globe, and two-thirds of them are women like Yama. 

With 129 million girls currently out of school around the world, buildOn is committed to ending the education crisis by breaking ground on a new school every two days in the world’s economically poorest countries. Each community we partner with pledges to send their daughters to school in equal numbers with their sons, closing the gender gap in education.

But what about women like Yama who were denied their chance at education?

Because buildOn believes that education is a human right, when we build a school, we ensure that entire communities can benefit. For women and men like Yama, their chance to attain life-changing education comes from buildOn’s innovative Adult Literacy Program. Soon after the community of Louba completed construction of a primary school with buildOn in 2019, the Adult Literacy Program began.

Taught in the evenings, in the same schools their children attend by day, buildOn’s Adult Literacy Program gives parents and grandparents in rural communities their first real opportunity to attain an education and the skills they need to build a better life for themselves, their children and their communities. Students learn to read, write and do basic math before putting their education into practice through income-generating activities. 78% of the participants are women like Yama (in her class 156 of 160 students were women).

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“I do not have the exact words to thank buildOn for first building quality classrooms for our children, and then giving us parents the chance to benefit from this Adult Literacy Program,” says Yama. “I am proud of myself for being a part of this program. It was not easy to manage a house, children and the courses at the same time, but it was such a great pleasure for me to go to school at my age.”

“This Adult Literacy Program awakened us to the fact that the place of a woman is not only at home, but everywhere.” -Yama Seck

Yama’s class put their new literacy, numeracy and business skills to practice working together to grow and sell food products. Each student earned some profit, which they invested in their own families. Yama has continued to pursue agriculture, growing a variety of vegetables that she can now sell at the market. She’s using her income to provide for her family and purchase school uniforms and supplies for her children. She’s excited for the opportunities education will bring her children and grateful she finally got the chance to learn.

 “As we say ‘njáŋŋ du wees’ — it is never too late to learn.”

Yama with some of the bananas she was able to grow and sell through her participation in buildOn’s Adult Literacy Program.

Help provide access to life-changing education for women like Yama

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