In Senegal, Quranic schools (Daaras) are experiencing growing success. Students, commonly known as "Talibés children," are placed there by their families to receive religious education taught by a highly respected personality, the Marabout.
Daraas were once located at the very heart of rural communities and were pillars of local society. With successive economic crises, they have moved to urban areas, leading to the increase of "fake marabouts," more motivated by personal enrichment than by children's education.
Thus, while some Marabouts still offer appropriate support, without violence, others abuse their influence to exploit talibé children, subjecting them to begging and precarious living conditions. Malnutrition, disease, violence, and humiliation then become the daily life of these "little hands."
Once the talibé children leave their Daara, they are in their twenties. In reality, they have not acquired skills or general education. What does the future hold for them? Some may become Marabouts themselves, while others will try to make a living in low-paying jobs. For some of them, the appeal of delinquency can be tempting. In any case, it is very likely that the majority of these Talibés will never return to their family and their home village.
In the absence of official statistics, it is estimated that in Dakar alone, there is a population of nearly 200,000 talibé children in Senegal according to a mapping by the NGO Global Solidarity Initiative.
Due to the lack of regulation for Daaras in the country, cases of abuse and mistreatment are rarely prosecuted.