The Koran and the Cane

The Senegalese schools accused of brainwashing their students

The Koran and the Cane 40% of Senegalese children attend Koranic schools. They leave with little else than a knowledge of the Koran and a sense of brutality. In a shocking scene a group of Koranic school boys are casually beaten by their teacher.
The children crouch together reciting the Koran, the pitch of their chanting rising as their teacher, the Marabout, casually walks behind them whipping their backs. Tears run from the children’s eyes but they continue reading. Should they falter too often more serious punishments await. In the blistering sun one boy sits tied to a stool. 'I don't want to hurt them, but they have to obey', the Marabout tells us. Between the ages of 5 and 7 parents send their children here for instruction. The schools’ tough regimes are well known, yet criticising them in devout Senegal is tantamount to blasphemy. Painter Oumar Diong remembers the school beatings and the senselessness of protest. ‘Koranic schools are not open to debate. If you question them you’re shunned by society”. And so the trauma continues. Koranic school pupil Omar is taken home to show off his new-found knowledge of the Koran. He’s asked if he’d prefer to stay at home then is immediately slapped by the Marabout for answering too slowly.

Produced by Marion Mayor-Hohdahl

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