Raby Gueye, Founder of Teach for Senegal – Ep. 56

About Raby Gueye:

Raby Gueye is the founder and CEO of Teach For Senegal, which seeks to raise educational outcomes in Senegal so that one day every Senegalese child feels seen, loved, and liberated. 

She has a remarkable story that brought her from her native Senegal to the United States as a refugee. She dedicated her life to social justice issues, and a series of career choices and observations led her to returning to Senegal to create a program called Teach for Senegal, that gives young Africans the room to finally solve their own issues—without aid—and prepare children for the real world.

Raby Gueye is an inspiring tale of following your heart and your intuition, and she’s a striking example of the unexpected twists and turns that we can take in life on our path to happiness, meaning, and fulfillment.

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6:12 – “When I lived in Senegal all the way to the age of seven, I actually never went to school. I didn’t even know that formal schooling existed.”

8:50 – “I realized if I want to change a system of society, I have to start with the educational system first. Education is the basis for all development, health, autonomy… And so when I returned from India, I was recruited by Teach for America, and I wanted to really understand the concept of teaching and the the root cause of education inequity.”

11:28 – “I applied and I was so thankful to have gotten that grant (Echoing Green) and that allowed me to move and start teach for Senegal and and allowed me… to see how deep education inequity is in Senegal. It’s so colonial and it’s so systematic. And so our goal with our vision… is to really liberate Senegalese children…”

20:32 – “They wanted you to be French. You spoke French and and, you became French. And so that meant stripping away your identity or your culture. And they started that with the educational system, where everything you learned in the educational system was about French and what it means to be French.”

22:18 – “Follow the money. That’s really it. Our educational system is… trying to uphold a system that no longer reflects the community… And it keeps you dependent because it doesn’t allow you to think critically and it doesn’t allow room for problem solving.”

28:00 – “[Because] we have such a young population, for me it was crucial to add in a leadership development element… because these are the people are going to be leading Senegal in the next few years. So we have a conscious leadership element to our program where our fellows go through a lot of self work, self-reflection, and [dealing with] trauma.”

31:35 – “We learn just as much from kids as they learn from us.”

33:43 – “I think that anything that you’re supposed to do is already within you. Oftentimes you get these gut feelings or these or these visions, and it really came to me. I was just one day sitting and I was like, ‘Why don’t you just start Teach for Senegal?’”

37:42 – “…as an entrepreneur. It can be very lonely and it can be exhausting. You never really see the fruits of your labor. And I think when the Forbes list came out, I was in a very dark place.”

40:57 – “Slowly but surely, I kept pushing. Something said, ‘keep going’. I don’t know what that thing is, and I met people all along the way that have helped me.”

42:29 – “This year we recruited 20 [teachers], who are impacting about 3,000 students directly and 5,000 indirectly.”

45:06 – “If everything went perfectly, Teach for Senegal would not exist. .., [it] would no longer needed. All children in Senegal would have access to an excellent education that nurtures their whole being.”

49:30 – “Write [your idea] down and really reach out. Reach out to anybody that you think might be able to help—don’t be afraid.”

RESEARCH NOTES ON Global Education: 

By the Numbers

“As a result of poverty and marginalization, more than 72 million children around the world remain unschooled.

Sub-Saharan Africa is the most affected area with over 32 million children of primary school age remaining uneducated. Central and Eastern Asia, as well as the Pacific, are also severely affected by this problem with more than 27 million uneducated children.”

Source: https://www.humanium.org/en/right-to-education/

Education in developing countries 

“A large majority of the schools enrolled more boys than girls, and drop-out rates for girls were reported to be higher. Non-fee expenditures like uniforms can be as much as 40% of the household income of the poorest households, so many families choose to educate only their male children.” 

“One private school principal is quoted as saying, “We as school owners cannot include the poorest of the poor in this school with other kids. It’s not like a charity; we have limited funds from the PPP, and I also need to earn a livelihood from this.” Teachers in the PPP, mostly women, are poorly paid and this further exploits gender inequality.”

Source: https://humanjourney.us/health-and-education-in-the-modern-world/education-in-the-developing-world/

Consequences of lack of teachers and resources

“A lack of trained teachers, inadequate learning materials, makeshift classes, and poor sanitation facilities make learning difficult for many children. Others come to school too hungry, sick or exhausted from work or household tasks to benefit from their lessons.”

“The consequences are grave: An estimated 617 million children and adolescents around the world are unable to reach minimum proficiency levels in reading and mathematics, even though two thirds of them are in school.”

Source: https://www.unicef.org/education

Being in school doesn’t mean they’re learning

“While countries have significantly increased access to education, being in school isn’t the same thing as learning. Worldwide, hundreds of millions of children reach young adulthood without even the most basic skills like calculating the correct change from a transaction, reading a doctor’s instructions, or understanding a bus schedule—let alone building a fulfilling career or educating their children.”


Girl’s education in Sub-Saharan Africa

“In sub-Saharan Africa, girls have much less access to education than boys do. Despite actions taken by organizations and even governments to increase girls’ education, there are still no sub-Saharan African countries where an equal number of boys and girls attend primary and secondary school. There are only 92 girls in the region for every 100 boys in primary school. In secondary school, there are only about 8 girls for every 10 boys enrolled.”

Source: https://www.borgenmagazine.com/girls-education/

Written by Sana Mamtaney

Role of education in creating peace 

“Firstly, increased commitment to education reduces discontent with government authorities, especially if access is relatively equal for all. This can reduce incentives to rebel among ethnic or religious minorities, for example.

“Secondly, improving access to education will better equip teenagers and young adults to find work that pays a living wage, thus reducing the attraction of joining a rebel group.

Source: https://blogs.prio.org/2021/11/protection-of-education-in-conflict-zones-a-step-in-the-right-direction/

Written by Gudrun Østby and Ragnhild Nordås

The need for educating children 

“When any child fails to acquire the basic skills needed to function as a productive, responsible member of society, society as a whole—not to mention the individual child—loses. The cost of educating children is far outweighed by the cost of not educating them. Adults who lack basic skills have greater difficulty finding well-paying jobs and escaping poverty. Education for girls has particularly striking social benefits: incomes are higher and maternal and infant mortality rates are lower for educated women, who also have more personal freedom in making choices.”

Source: https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/issues/issues33/

Written by Arye L. Hillman and Eva Jenkner

How the pandemic increased inequalities

“In many countries, the heavy reliance on online learning and connectivity technologies to deliver education exacerbated learning inequalities because many governments did not have the policies, resources, or infrastructure to roll out online learning in a fully inclusive manner.”

“Children from low-income families were more likely to be excluded from online distance learning because of an inability to afford sufficient internet or devices.”

Source: https://www.hrw.org/report/2021/05/17/years-dont-wait-them/increased-inequalities-childrens-right-education-due-covid

Economic impact of learning losses due to school closures

According to a 2020 paper by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), “students in grades 1 to 12 affected by the closures might expect some 3% lower income over their entire lifetimes. For nations, the lower long-term growth related to such losses might yield an average of 1.5% lower annual GDP for the remainder of the century.” 

Source: https://theconversation.com/the-cost-of-covid-what-happens-when-children-dont-go-to-school-171606

Paper authored by Eric A. Hanushek and Ludger Woessmann

How education can break poverty cycle 

“The new analysis by UNESCO’s Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report team, shows that nearly 60 million people could escape poverty if all adults had just two more years of schooling.

“If all adults completed secondary education, 420 million could be lifted out of poverty, reducing the total number of poor people by more than half globally and by almost two-thirds in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia,” according to UNESCO.”

Source: https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/blog/2017/06/millions-could-escape-poverty-by-finishing-secondary-education-says-un-cultural-agency/

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