Although a poor nation, Senegal is widely seen as model of stability in a region of Africa often ravaged by conflict. The country is home to just over six million children who can expect to live until they are around 60yrs old. Many children in Senegal live within polygamous families sharing their father with two or more wives and living within a rural compound that's home to around ten people. Most children have around five siblings however not all will survive birth or even reach their fifth birthday.
Their traditional village homes are made from mud bricks with wooden roofs entwined with millet stalks and are often decorated with numerous family photographs with the father spending time with each wife and children and household tasks being rotated amongst the women. Each day life for most Senegal children starts with breakfast of baguettes then chores including collecting water from nearby wells. Then its off to school for those who attend where reading, writing and arithmetic form the basis of study. Although education is free in Senegal and compulsory up to the age of sixteen, there are simply not enough school places and it is estimated that of children between the ages of five and fourteen just over 40% actually attend school with the figure dropping even further for older children.
Fewer girls go to school in Senegal than boys, mainly due to poverty, and in secondary school the attendance rate for girls is just 15%. This is reflected in literacy rates for Senegal children, currently standing at 51.1% for boys but just 29.2% for girls. After school, its more chores, then of course, play, with football being a firm favourite, not just for boys, but girls as well. In fact, football for girls is widely promoted in schools as its seen as away of keeping girls in education who may otherwise drop out believing that education has no part of their future. Many children in Senegal are concerned about this future in their country, facing a seemingly never ending cycle of poverty. High unemployment rates encourage many older children to seek greener pastures in Europe, although entry is normal illegal and fraught with dangers, but, as one Senegal would be migrant stated "All the youth here have one common goal. Leaving the country."
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