February 11, 2005


Talibes are young children who are sent by their parents to a marabout, to learn about the Koran and Islam. Part of the religious experience is understanding humility. A child is to go in the streets for a few hours to beg for money (between the hours of teaching), and come home in time for dinner to eat with all the other students.

While some religious schools are very reputable, a large majority of the children are "taught" by marabouts that have no interest in their education. Instead, the children become sources of revenue. They spend all day outside, begging for money, in dirty T-shirts and beat-up flip flops, chanting religious songs. They are not taught anything about Islam and severely reprimanded if they do not bring enough money home. They are left to fend for themselves and find their own food. Lately, people have smartened up to this and have been giving them bread and cookies instead of money.

Why do we accept this? Why are these children starving, dirty and uneducated?

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