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Learning to Read and Write
ylw-text.gif Koran School Djenne, Mali

While higher education in West African countries is free and of reasonably high quality, the requirements for acceptance to a university are difficult to meet. Primary school is not compulsory, and governments rarely build schools, let alone hire teachers for them. Some high schools are found in larger cities, but in the bush, there is virtually nothing. Village children attend schools run mostly by religious groups who are responsible for more than 80% of the literacy in West Africa. In this photograph, children learn to read and write from a Muslim teacher who uses the Koran, the holy book of Islam, as the only teaching aid.

There are also other positive influences from the outside. The Internet, oddly enough, has assisted with state-run education, because classes can be centrally developed and administered with significantly less investment in infrastructure and teacher training than is possible with traditional methods. This allows state-run schools to be built in more remote areas.

However, with all these positives, there are still cultural barriers. Of those students that do go on to college, few return to their home villages due to fear of jealous dejection from their people. Another barrier is the traditional hierarchy of the village, which does not warmly welcome new ideas. These issues cause frustration for everyone, usually resulting in the educated people leaving for the cities, or more likely, to live and work abroad. This "brain drain" is a major contributing factor to the lack of cultural evolution in West Africa today.

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Country-Primary Location Name: Africa
Credit: Dan Heller
Object Name: koran-kids.jpg
By-line: Dan Heller
Copyright Notice: Photo (c) www.danheller.com
Keywords: koran, kids, montage, africa
Location: Mali
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Keywords: koran, vertical, childrens, montage, africa