The Senegalese education system is based on its French equivalent. The
state is responsible for the creation of an educational system that
enables every citizen access to education. Articles 21 and 22 of
the Constitution adopted in January 2001 guarantee access to education
for all children. However, due to limited resources and low
demand for secular education in areas where Islamic education is more
prevalent, the law is not fully enforced.
1 Primary and secondary education
1.2 Primary School
1.3 Middle School
1.4 High School
1.5 Multigrade teaching
1.6 Koranic Schools
2 Higher education
2.1 Challenges facing higher education in Senegal
2.2 Gaston Berger University
2.3 Université du Sahel
2.4 Université Cheikh Anta Diop de Dakar
2.5 École Supérieure Multinationale des Télécommunications
2.6 Centre Africain d’Etudes Supérieures en Gestion (CESAG)
3 Challenges facing Senegalese Education
4 The 'Case des Tout-Petits' experience
7 External links
Primary and secondary education
Determined on February 16, 1991, official law n° 91-22 states three
main objectives concerning Senegalese education.
Firstly the educational system should create conditions that enable
development within the entire nation, by creating capable men and
women who can work efficiently to improve their nation, and who have a
specific interest in Senegal’s economic, social and cultural
Secondly the educational system should promote Senegal’s values:
liberty, democracy, personal and civic morality, human rights, and the
upholding of Senegalese society’s laws and regulations.
Lastly the educational system should enhance the nation’s culture by
creating men and women who actively participate in national
activities, who possess the ability to effectively reflect on
problems, and who can contribute to the advancement of science.
Education is compulsory and free up to the age of 16. In 2002, the
gross primary enrolment rate was 80%, and the net primary enrolment
rate was 67.6%. Gross and net enrolment rates are based on the number
of students formally registered in primary school and therefore do not
necessarily reflect attendance. In 2000, 41.2% of children ages 5 to
14 years were attending school. Primary school attendance statistics
are not available for Senegal. As of 2001, 80% of children who started
primary school were likely to reach grade 5.
The Ministry of Labor has indicated that the public school system is
unable to cope with the number of children that must enroll each year.
As a result, many school-age children seek education and training
through more informal means. A large number apprentice themselves to a
shop, where they receive no wages. One government official estimated
there are 100,000 children apprenticed in Dakar. The Agence Nationale
de la Statistique et de la Démographie (ANSD) reports that, as of
2001, 32.7% of children age 10–14 had begun their professional
In 2000 Senegalese governments and authorities set out to make
revision to the educational system. Senegal’s Ten-Year
Training Program (PDEF) facilitated this reform in the United Nations
special initiatives for Africa. In 2000
Senegal published an
announcement stating the country’s education goals for the 2000-2010
decade. The reform was composed of several goals. Firstly, increasing
access to education throughout the country. Secondly, the creation
of an educational system that was pertinent to all classes of
Senegalese people. Thirdly the creation/revision of an effective
relationship between politics and education. Lastly the
reorganization of resource acquisition and use. The government’s
2010 goal was the actualization of a nationally cohesive education
Senegal preschool is provided for children ages 3–5, for up to
three years of study.
Children who attend preschool have the
opportunity to enroll in induction courses at the age of six instead
of having to wait until they are seven. Preschool is not
obligatory. According to article 10, law n° 91-22 decreed February
16, 1991 Senegal’s preschool system has two goals: To consolidate
children’s identities by anchoring them in the national languages
and cultural values. Also to develop their motor skills,
intellects, and social skills to develop their personalities and
create a strong foundation for their future learning. Since 2007
there has been a focus on DIPE (développement intégré de la petite
enfance). DIPE is a national priority for
Senegal is based on the
needs of the nations’ children. In 2007, 57% of preschools and 36.9%
of daycares were in Dakar.
Primary school is designed for children ages 7 to 12. The Senegalese
primary education system divides six years of study into three cycles
of two years that culminate in the successful completion of the CFEE
(Certificate of Elementary Completion) and an entrance test into the
next cycle of education. For children enrolled in the education
system, attendance is mandatory until the completion of second year
elementary course. Article 11, law n° 91-22 dating February 16,
1991 states the Senegalese primary education goals. The curriculum
places an emphasis on French grammar and reading, math and science,
and geography, with less time being dedicated to arts education.
Middle school education is aimed at students ages 13 and is composed
of four years of study. To successfully pass middle school students
must succeed on their BFEM (brevet de fin d’études moyennes).
Article 12, law n° 91-22 instated on February 16, 1991 states the
objectives of middle school in Senegal. In 2007 624 public middle
schools and 376 private middle schools were registered. Of these
schools 58.4% were centralized in urban areas, with 51.4% residing in
Dakar, Thiès, and Ziguinchor.
Senegalese secondary education can be “general” or technical
(adhering to the standards of the French system of the lycée).
These secondary study programs last three years and are officially
approved by the French baccalaureate. The technical secondary
education program culminates in the passing of the BEP (brevet
d’études professionnelles) and the BT (brevet de technicien).
Senegal’s objectives for secondary education are listed in article
12, law n° 91-22. While middle school education is for the most part
uniform, secondary education offers four streams: general, long
technical, short technical, and professional.
Because of low population density, multigrade teaching is of
particular significance in sub-Saharan Africa. Although it is
already an integral part of the education system in Senegal, the use
of multigrade teaching is expected to increase along with efforts and
strategies aimed to provide education for all Senegalese children.
Multigrade teaching is perceived by some to be a “second-rate”
Senegal 18% of schools have multigrade classes and 10%
of children attending primary schools are in multigrade classes.
There are two models of multigrade teaching in Senegal. The first, the
more common model, consists of one teacher teaching two consecutives
grades at once. The other model is referred to as Ecole à Classe
Unique and consists of one teacher working with up to six grades
simultaneously. Multigrade schools usually reflect poor outcomes in
the CFEE (Certificate of Elementary Completion) examination at the end
of the year, with a 44% pass rate in Kaolack, 34% pass rate in Mbour,
and a 46% pass rate in Mbacke.
Senegalese state schools do not offer religious education, so children
are sent to Koranic school instead. There is little data on Koranic
education in Senegal. There is no defined structure for Koranic
schools in Senegal. In 1999 World Bank identified three levels:
The primary Koranic level:
Children are given basic knowledge of the
The secondary Koranic level:
Children have large portions of the Koran
memorize and are taught Islamic science.
Higher Koranic studies: Very few reach this level, taught by prominent
Islamic masters, usually in prestigious Islamic universities.
The aim of the Koranic school is to teach children to be good Muslims.
In certain forms of Senegalese Koranic schooling children are fostered
out to Koranic masters. Because of this they often are forced to
become beggars to feed themselves. UCW: Understanding Children's
Work estimates that 90% of child beggars in
Senegal are students of
this type of Koranic education. However, this sort of Koranic
education is a minority. Usually Koranic schools in
Senegal are in
the form of Franco-Arab schools and are professional schools that
balance French education and religious teaching.
Senegal has diverse options of institutes for higher education with
private and public universities. University-level instruction is only
in French. In 2012 the Ministry of Higher
cooperation with UNESCO’S Regional Office in
Dakar launched a
project to improve the quality of higher education in Senegal. This
project will establish training opportunities, prepare guides for
foreign students, research on existing systems of quality assurance,
and assess employment needs. Participants will discuss and learn
from experts working in other African countries and throughout the
Challenges facing higher education in Senegal
According to Hassana Alidou, the chief of the Basic to Higher
Education Section for UNESCO
Dakar states that despite some
improvements since 2000, the higher education system in Senegal
struggles to cope with several challenges, such as the abundant
student body attending the University of
Dakar (UCAD). The rapid
generation of private institutes of higher education has also been
cause for concern. In addition, low performance and inadequate
training resulting from a flawed system. Senegalese higher
education institutions must address the unequal access between men and
women. Lastly within the Senegalese system of higher education
there is a matter of fraud in obtaining degrees.
Gaston Berger University
L'Université de Saint-Louis was created January 1990 and was later
renamed Université Gaston Berger in 1997. Its mission statement can
be found in article one of the 96-597 decree of July 10, 1996 and
states that the university’s main goals are to create a class of
highly skilled individuals who contribute to scientific research at
the national and international level, as well as to promote and
develop African cultural values. The university is ten kilometers
from the city of Saint-Louis and extends over 240 hectares. The
university employs 185 professors/researchers, 348 administrative and
technical workers, and 5347 students enrolled in 2010-2011.
Université du Sahel
The University of Sahel is a private institute for higher education in
Dakar. In 2007 the university was validated by CAMES (Conseil africain
et malgache pour l’enseignement supérieur) after their diplomas
were determined to fulfill all the necessary requirements. The
university is composed of faculties, institutes, laboratories, and an
administrative and education staff dedicated to teaching, research,
and student life.
Université Cheikh Anta Diop de Dakar
The Université Cheikh Anta Diop de
Dakar was created February 24,
1957 and was officially inaugurated December 9, 1959. It was
renamed from the University of
Dakar to Université Cheikh Anta Diop
Dakar in 1987. Its focus is science and technical studies.
The university’s motto is “lux mea lex”.
École Supérieure Multinationale des Télécommunications
Ecole Supérieure Multinationale des Télécommunications (ESMT) is in
Dakar and was founded in 1981. It is part of the United Nations
initiative for development.
Centre Africain d’Etudes Supérieures en Gestion (CESAG)
The CESAG was founded in 1985 by the CEAO (Conférence des Chefs
d'Etat de la Communauté Economique de l'Afrique de l'Ouest) and was
taken over by the BCEAO (Banque Centrale des Etats de l'Afrique de
l'Ouest) in 1995. Today the school offers management programs for
business in the public and private sector.
Further information: List of universities in Senegal
Challenges facing Senegalese Education
In 1992 approximately 54 000 Senegalese youths were suspected to be
apprentices in the workforce rather than in school. Although the
legal age for these apprenticeships is supposed to be 15 it is
believed that there are much younger children involved in the
Children who live in rural parts of the country are at a
disadvantage and usually work in agriculture instead of attending
school. There is a focus on increasing enrolment among Senegalese
girls, although in the past few year enrolment rates have elevated.
The 'Case des Tout-Petits' experience
The health and social status of children in
Senegal is unfavourable
and despite serious efforts the protection of children remains of
great concern. In reaction to this situation, Senegalese national
authorities now consider early childhood care a priority for
development. Since 2002, the ‘Case des Tout-Petits’, a new model
for the development of children in their early years, has coexisted
alongside the various structures of formal, non-formal and informal
pre-school education. While there is room for improvement, the
programme is a valuable community-based experience grounded in local
The ‘Case des Tout-Petits’ is a community structure for the
support of children aged from 0 to 6. The case, or traditional house,
connotes a lifestyle, a way of being and thinking, and symbolizes a
commitment to African values. The case as a living, socialized,
educational place par excellence is considered the starting point for
the child’s learning in life.
These ‘cases’ were primarily designed for disadvantaged and rural
milieus to guarantee access to adequate and integrated services. They
are run by the people themselves and represent some 20% of Senegal’s
early childhood structures. Architecturally, the ‘Case des
Tout-Petits’ is a hexagonal structure comprising two rooms, one for
the children’s educational activities and the other for parental
education. These structures develop a comprehensive and holistic
approach to childhood care that includes education, health and
While participation is not free, fees are lower than in other early
childhood care structures within the formal sector. The financial
participation is symbolic and allows families to work in synergy
around a common good that belongs to the community and that the
community is expected to preserve.
This article incorporates text from a free content work.
Licensed under CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0 License statement: Rethinking
Education: Towards a global common good?, 46, Box 8, UNESCO. UNESCO.
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APIX - Living in
Senegal - Education
Senegal's Poor Hurt By Begging Ban Meant To
Help - audio report by NPR
Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada - Initiative to Support
Education Program in Senegal
Boston College Centre For International Higher
International Network for Higher
Education in Africa
Rébuplique du Sénégal – Ministère de L’
International Bureau of
Education - Senegal
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