<p>The lecturer held his student’s child throughout the class so that she could focus on her work</p>

The lecturer held his student’s child throughout the class so that she could focus on her work

@ToureLabaly/Twitter

A university lecturer in Senegal has become an online icon after he offered a heartwarming show of solidarity to student mothers across the country.

Labaly Touré, a professor at the University of Kaolack in Dakar, tweeted two photos of himself teaching while cradling the baby of one of his pupils.

Alongside the touching snaps, he wrote: “This morning, I had the pleasure of holding the baby of one of my students. I’d like to pay tribute to the courage of all student mums.”

Within five days his post had racked up more than 110,000 likes and 15,500 retweets on the platform as fellow Twitter users praised Touré for his moving display.

The teacher, who is a doctor of geomatics, said he had been bowled over by the response to his message, which he hoped would raise awareness of the challenges faced by young women balancing motherhood with their studies.

In an interview with France24 he explained: “The predicament of these young mothers highlights a problem in Senegal – daycares and nannies are expensive, so they aren’t really an option for everyone, especially when you think about students who, very often, have limited financial means.

“Obviously, if my student could pay for a nanny, she would. She didn’t have a choice and I wasn’t going to send her away because she came to class with her baby.”

Last year, Senegal’s birth rate was 36.1 per cent – one of the highest in the world – according to the news site. The country also has a soaring fertility rate, averaging at slightly less than five children per woman.

Explaining the circumstances around his now viral tweet, Touré explained: “A student came to my class with her baby, who was less than a year old, tied on her back. She wasn’t able to concentrate on the course like that.

“She put the baby on her lap, and when I saw that, I offered to take the baby myself so that she could focus on class. I kept the baby with me for the entire class, he stayed very calm.”

He added that the gesture was not only a means of helping his student, but also an acknowledgement of all mothers juggling higher education with their maternal duties.

“I want to show them that these two roles aren’t incompatible these days,” he told France24.

“Because I am a father myself, I am sensitive to these issues. And we, as teachers, have a role to play in helping these mothers.

“I don’t know of many women attempting to do this in my university or elsewhere. But when I do encounter a student mother, I’ll do everything I can to support her so that she doesn’t give up her education.”

Admitting he had no idea his photos would attract so much attention, he added: “I didn’t think my photos would take off like they did on Twitter. I didn’t realise that so many people were thinking about this issue.

“For me, these photos ask a question: what solutions can we offer young women who come to university with their babies?”

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