Improving Education in Senegal

Girls in a middle school
Girls in a middle school
USAID, Michelle Barrett

USAID/Senegal is working with the Government of Senegal, teachers, parents, students and businesses to ensure all Senegalese children receive 10 years of quality education, especially girls and vulnerable children. This includes building schools, supporting teacher training, increasing supplies of books and access to the Internet, and increasing enrolment and opportunities for out-of-school young people in conflict environments in the south.

Improving Skills and Enrollment

USAID programs support the focus on improving reading skills of students from grades 1 to 8, and improving access to junior secondary education (grades 7 and 8) in conflict-affected areas. Since 2003, USAID has helped Senegal to improve access, quality, and governance in middle schools through activities to provide youth with increased access to a quality middle school education. As a result,  in USAID-assisted regions, the rates both for middle school enrollment and the number of girls attending middle school have increased.

Recognizing that the new USAID education strategy calls for more emphasis on basic education, the focus is shifting from middle school to primary education, especially math and reading. USAID will also continue supporting the Government of Senegal’s effort to reduce the average distance from home to school by funding the construction of schools and strengthening the ability of communities to effectively support their children’s education.

Increasing Access to Schools

Following the 2005 Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, USAID is working directly with the Government of Senegal through a Fixed Amount Reimbursement program to construct middle schools. Under this arrangement, Senegal builds schools using its own funds, financial systems, and procurement procedures.  USAID then reimburses the government for the agreed upon amount after it has been verified that the schools have been constructed to specification.  Since 2007, 46 middle schools and 30 water points will have been built and equipped nationwide by the end of 2016.

Improving Reading Performance

One of USAID’s priorities is to improve reading and math learning outcomes of primary school students in Senegal. The project works directly with the Ministry of Education to improve reading and math classroom instruction, strengthen school monitoring and student learning assessments at local and national levels, and increase research and evaluation capacity within the ministry.

The Our Sisters Read program seeks to improve the basic reading skills of rural pupils, especially girls, in primary schools in the Fatick region, in partnership with the local NGO Femmes Plus.  The project engages and supports students in elementary school, their families and communities to create and strengthen a culture of reading, while improving parity indexes.  Our Sisters Read will create physical spaces for reading activities, such as computer and mobile labs and libraries; the design and implementation of activities such as competitions and book clubs, mentoring to encourage communities to read; and especially foster a community where teachers, parents and villages support literacy and promote education for their children.

Higher Education Activities

A five-year partnership between the Ohio State University (OSU) and University Gaston Berger (UGB) under the Africa-US Higher Education Initiative seeks to create the professional capacity needed to solve agricultural management challenges in the northern Senegal and Sahelian ecosystems. It includes building an agro-ecology program and establishing an Agricultural Research and Development Center at UGB to work with small farmers on improving crop techniques and irrigation to increase production.  Graduates will be trained to meet the ecological and agricultural challenges of the semi-arid environment and provide the human capacity to serve the emerging food export industry.