DAKAR, Senegal — In a country where almost half of the population lives in poverty and more than 30 percent of the population lives in chronic poverty, Senegal has faced many obstacles to improve its education system and ensure more children are receiving a primary education.
A lack of trained teachers, shortages of teaching resources and a difficult school environment have challenged Senegal, but statistics are evidence that positive changes are being made.
In just nine years, between 2000 and 2009, Senegal increased their primary school enrollment from 69.8 percent to an impressive 92.5 percent, and between 2009 and 2011, the primary to lower secondary school transition rate spiked from 60 percent to 91 percent.
One of the major organizations that has helped Senegal work toward its goals is the Global Partnership for Education, which it joined in 2006.
GPE is a multilateral partnership created in 2002 that works with almost 60 developing countries, donor governments, international organizations, the private sector, teachers and civil society to fulfill their vision to ensure “a good quality education for all children, everywhere, so they fulfill their potential and contribute to their societies.”
In 2009, Senegal received a grant of $81.5 million with the goal of providing all children a primary education by 2015.
Remarkable progress was made with this grant, as $35 million went toward providing water to 374 schools and building nearly 2,000 classrooms and 254 administration facilities.
Another portion consisting of $46.5 million was used to provide 421 schools with water and build another 2,400 classrooms, 460 latrines and 266 school administration facilities.
By 2013, 80 percent of the resources had been distributed and Senegal applied for a new grant to continue building on their previous achievements.
This grant will be funded by The World Bank, The Canadian International Development Agency and GPE in conjunction with domestic resources. The focus will continue to be providing primary education to all children and working toward the next goal of improving the educational quality.
As stated on the Global Partnership for Education website, “The 2013-2025 education sector plan for Senegal has eight priorities:
- Implement universal basic education under the universal right to education
- Adapt, in partnership with the private sector, vocational and technical training to meet the needs of economic development
- Improve the quality of teaching and learning
- Promote the teaching of science, technology and innovation
- Pursue the decentralization of management for effective governance
- Strengthen sector efficiency
- Enhance staff productivity
- Progressively develop the use of national languages
In addition to GPE, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has worked with the Senegalese government, teachers, parents, students and private businesses to aid in the improvement of the Senegalese education system. They have focused on working with the Ministry of Education to ensure high quality education and to ensure the national curriculum is sensitive to gender, ethnicity and social standings.
Together, USAID and its partnerships in Senegal have helped 500,000 children attend school, of which 300,000 were girls. In addition, they worked together to build and restore more than 100 middles schools, donate over 3 million textbooks and provided Internet access to 20,000 students.
Although accurate statistics are difficult to acquire, UNICEF has estimated that there are 100,000 street children in Senegal. Most of these children are from the daaras, or Koranic schools, where they are forced to spend many hours a day on the street begging.
Due to the severity of this issue, USAID has been working since 2008 to help street children receive basic education, vocational training and life skills. The organization has set the goal to help an additional 50,000 street children attend school.
When more children receive better education, they have more opportunities to improve their quality of life. Education is one of the best investments a country can make for the future of their nation.
Senegal has already set its goals and has begun improving their education system despite difficulties. The public looks forward to seeing what the country will accomplish by 2025.