Why so many children in Senegal still don’t have access to education.


Before finishing primary school, children in Senegal need to show their birth certificate. However, many children in Senegal aren’t registered at birth at the local registration office of their birthplace. Lacking legal documents, such as a birth certificate, in combination with uneducated parents and absence of information counts as reason to why many young people remain uneducated and end up on the street with no purpose. To pursue further education a birth certificate is necessary.

I started this project, Écoliers Sanspapiers de Ngaparou, in 2013 and we officially became a non-profit organization in 2017. We work together with a local social association of students in Ngaparou (A.M.E.E.R.N) with the help of a volunteer, named Elage, for mediation. This association aims to improve parent involvement in education. Our project is situated at the coastal region of Ngaparou and Mbour, located at 80 km from Dakar.

The mission of VZW Écoliers Sanspapiers de Ngaparou is the registration and succession of children from poor families in official schools and therefore registration at the local city administration. Our main purpose is to provide access to education to Senegalese children and young people. We want to make sure the parents of today’s children are the last generation of illiterate people. In most cases those children come from underprivileged families and follow in the footsteps of their uneducated parents. Parents don’t always realize the far-reaching consequences of not registering their child to the city administration at birth.

We are currently working together with 4 primary schools, 2 nursery schools, a secondary school and a technical professional school. The professional school (Centre de Formation Professionelle (C.F.P)) is suited for the technically oriented students. We are cooperating with the administration of the primary and elementary schools, examining who has no birth papers. Every year we submit a list of unregistered children to the municipal county, who proceed to a joint registration, making sure these children will become official citizens. We monitor the children during their school education, paying a part of the school fees, as many of these children are among the poorest families.

Many teenagers had to leave school prematurely due to a lack of papers, financial reasons or because they are uninformed. We can help these teenagers and provide them access to a professional training in the CFP-the Technical Professional school in Mbour.

In 2021 we will be monitoring 480 students.


Our local volunteer, Elage, visits the schools to find out which children are falling behind and need to be reoriented.  The association has many permanent members, first of all the co-founder and Senegal representative Elage (El Hadj Mbaye Ndiaye), but also Michel Leborgne, Brigitte Gidding and Claude Mairesse. They reside a big part of the year in Senegal following up the children from Écoliers Sanspapiers in school.                                                                                                   

Other permanent members who work locally during their stay in Senegal are Anne Grimonprez, Sévérine Bien, Madee Lambert, Dominique Augras, Pascale Tissot and Serge Helman, Philippe Cornez, Olivier D’Hooghe, Graziella Mazzoleni, Barbara Rachid and Nadège.                                                                                      

We also have a number of permanent Senegalese members such as Seny Mar (IT), Abdou Sakho, Hibou (Ibrahima Dieng), Pathé Ibrahima Dieng and Niania Ba. Tiny Dewulf (chairman) is involved year-round and travels 3 times a year to Senegal to follow-up administration by means of student lists, collects funds, manages social media and provides contact with all members and associates. She keeps contact with both members and school management on a daily basis.


École de devoirs

We have set up a homework class at the family house of Elage to provide student counseling and guidance. In these 3 classes, volunteers teach about literacy, give tutoring where necessary and help students with their homework. The homework class was founded in 2018 and was the idea of Barbara Rachid, who has been tutoring students from the start during her stay in Senegal. The school desks were donated to us by Gerard Delacroix of the association Mediraid. École de devoirs is also a meeting point in Ngaparou (district Gambouroukh) for the association VZW Écoliers Sanspapiers.

Centre de formation professionnelle de Mbour - CFP
This school provides educational training to young people who had to leave school early due to lack of papers and lack of support and therefore hang around aimlessly.
With the help of the Province of West-Flandres, educational material was purchased for the Kitchen, Electricity, and Couture educational courses. For the Medical Assistant education, donated goods were shipped by the Godetia, a ship of the Belgian Navy. There is also a horticulture education. The CFP offers courses at 3 levels: attesté (school certificate after the first grade of secondary), the CAP attest (Certificat d’aptitude professionelle) as the former A2 diploma, and the BEP certificate A1. The cooperation between our association and CFP promotes access to vocational training and future job security for many young people in Senegal.                                 

BECOME A GODPARENT –via support cards from 30 €

Parrainages is a system where a godparent can follow-up a particular child during his school education for 3 years or more. Brigitte Gidding manages the follow-up of all godparents. Anne Grimonprez, Sévérine Bien, Madee Lambert and Graziella Mazzoleni gathered around many godparents from which they bring gifts for the children. Because of this extra attention, the child is motivated, and it receives a visit at home with a gift from its godfather. This extra attention provides better follow-up, support and motivation.

Vegetable garden at school

In order to make our schools self-sufficient we plan on growing a vegetable garden at the school location. This way the schools can be self-reliant through the supply of food in the canteen and it’s a way of gaining an income through the sale of vegetables.

Our next project thus includes the creation of vegetable gardens in the schools where we enrolled our students. The children will be involved in growing vegetables, they will learn to care for a vegetable garden and how to be self-sufficient. They become aware of the vulnerability of nature and of the impact of climate change.

Ecoliers Sanspapier de Ngaparou vzw - Spoorwegstraat 28 bus 3 - 8400 Oostende