The first school in its isolated area to offer basic education and literacy alongside traditional Quranic teaching, opening new horizons for the village's girls and boys.

44% of adults in Senegal struggle to read and write.

The school in Fass is the first full-fledged elementary school in the region of Medina Gounass, a remote area comprised of over fifty villages where the Senegalese government has not built public schools. Initially proposed by the Marabout of Fass in 2012, the school opened with the approval and warm encouragement of the Khalif—the religious leader of all of Medina Gounass—on February 2, 2019.

Until this school opened, children in the region only received Quranic instruction, and could not read or write in their local language of Pulaar, or in French, which is the language of Senegal’s public schools. Now, alongside Quranic studies, there are classes for boys and girls in the French and Pulaar languages, and other subjects usual in an elementary school curriculum.

Over two hundred boys and girls attend the school, many of them coming from villages outside of Fass. At the request of the Khalif and his associates, there is also emphasis on practical skills including carpentry, sewing, fishing, and cooking.

Designed by Toshiko Mori Architect and funded by Laurel Hixon and Michael Keane, the school is life-changing for Fass’s inhabitants. Children can now build literacy and gain the skills they need to continue in Senegal’s national education system. The building itself, which features local materials and natural cooling, has been touted by Architectural Digest as one of the thirteen buildings that redefined architecture in the last five years.

The Fass school is the realization of a longstanding dream. Numerous meetings took place between Fass’s Imam Thierno Sall, Dr. Ba, Nick Weber, and the Khalif Thierno Amadou Ba or members of his family representing him, before the Khalif decided that Fass could have a school, for boys and girls, offering both elementary education and Quranic instruction. It is a revolutionary step in this isolated village.

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