SENEGAL: Professional university to open in 2012

Minister for Technical Education and Professional Training Moussa Sakho has launched a project to create a new university in the Saint-Louis region. The Université des Métiers et du Développement Durable (University of Professions and Sustainable Development), due to open in 2012, is a joint public-private venture.

The university will offer professionally oriented courses in such sectors as health, catering, tourism, telecommunications and building, reported Le Soleil of Dakar.

It will focus on sustainable development through teaching modules such as water treatment, renewable energies, waste and sanitation.

Funded jointly by the French government and the French Fondation Concorde, the project's first phase will cost about XOF5 billion (US$10.3 million), to be followed by a further boost of XOF2 billion, reported Sud Online of Dakar. The university will have places for 1,000 students.

Sakho presented the plan at a meeting in Dakar that included the French Ambassador to Senegal, Jean-Christophe Rufin, and the President of the Fondation Concorde, Michel Rousseau.

Sakho said the ambitious project conformed to his department's policy for professional education, in that the Fondation Concorde had "closely associated private and public Senegalese actors in [its] realisation".

The project's Vice-president, Dr Cheikh Kanté, said the university would be a response to the strong demand from young Senegalese who lacked training, and would integrate them into the economic system. This would come about through a major programme of microfinance, which would concern all parts of Senegal and the African sub-region, the Agence de Presse Sénégalaise of Dakar quoted him as saying.

Senegal currently has two public universities - Ucad, the University Cheikh Anta Diop in Dakar, and the University Gaston Berger in Saint-Louis - and six private universities.