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 development.

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 lives.

In 2000 Senegalese governments and authorities set out to make revision to the educational system. Senegal's Ten-Year Education and 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 system.

In 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
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
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.

High School
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.

Multigrade teaching
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" system. In 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.

Koranic Schools
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 Koran.
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