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SOAS University of London (2022)

Daaras and development discourses : Three interventions targeting the practice of begging by talibés in urban Senegal

Macleod, Shona

Titre : Daaras and development discourses : Three interventions targeting the practice of begging by talibés in urban Senegal

Auteur : Macleod, Shona

Université de soutenance : SOAS University of London

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) 2022

Résumé
The practice of begging by talibés (Qur’anic school students) in urban Senegal has long attracted the attention of international development actors who either see the talibés’ begging as the result of the exclusion of their daaras (traditional Qur’anic schools) from the state education system, or see the talibés as victims of child trafficking and exploitation. This thesis problematises both framings to understand how global development discourses influence state and NGO practice and policies towards daaras at the local and national levels. Based on interviews conducted in 2017/18 with NGO workers, state officials and Qur’anic teachers, the thesis explores the construction of talibés (as Qur’anic school students, or, exploited children) and their teachers, or traffickers, as objects in need of development assistance or regulation. It focuses on the blurred boundaries between narratives about talibé begging that each relate to a different branch of global development discourse, be it Education for All or the anti-child trafficking agenda. This thesis argues that these differing discourses both lead to, and are the result of, a fragmented landscape of institutions, structures, and organisations each claiming to be tackling a particular understanding of the problem and operating largely in silos. It highlights the dynamics of competition that exist between structures, as well as how the engagement of Qur’anic teachers is centralised. Requiring the existence of individuals who can translate between religious and secular worlds, this engagement and resistance within it both depend upon the use of dual narratives. Using case studies of three projects – the modernisation of daaras, the state’s push to remove children from the street, and a USAID project mobilising communities at municipal level – the thesis traces how these discourses and dynamics play out in practice, drawing attention to the contradictions and continuities between these projects

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