SENEGAL: Second university to offer teacher training

The Université Gaston Berger, Senegal's second largest academic institution with 7,000 students, will add teacher training to its offerings to meet the rapidly growing needs of middle and high schools. Demand for quality teachers is intense as a result of Senegal's resolve to accelerate the provision of universal education.

The university, which is situated in Saint-Louis, the capital of Senegal's northern region, will offer training to teachers in mathematics, physical chemistry, life sciences and earth, and maths-sport through its Unit for Training and Research in Sciences of Education and Sports, which was opened this year.

As previously reported in University World News, because of the university's limited infrastructure and human and financial resources, the new unit will open progressively over the next few years.

The agreement to offer teacher training was signed on 4 November between the Minister of Preschool Education, Elementary, Middle and Secondary National Languages Professor Kalidou Diallo, and Professor Mary Teuw Niane, rector of the Université Gaston Berger.

The new training unit will help to decentralise the country's intermediate and secondary school teacher training which until now was only available at Dakar's University Cheikh Anta Diop.

The opening of the new training unit also reflects Université Gaston Berger's decision to diversify its programme offerings and research, and to consider both the employment needs of its graduates and the country's need for quality teachers.

Previously, given the deficit of trained teachers, the authorities were reluctantly obliged to recruit graduates with no teacher training which, over the past 15 years, has led to a decline in teacher quality. Historically, Senegal has had an education system that has been a model of quality in the sub-region and in Africa.

According to Teuw Niane, this coming academic year a cohort of 400 teachers in various scientific disciplines and sport will be trained in the new unit. A major innovation is that the students will be recruited at the bachelor degree level, whether graduates of 2011 or previous years.

Under the same agreement with the government, regional training centres will also be strengthened. The regional centres were established following a decree in May 2011 by the country's President Abdoulaye Wade, in line with the demands of national trade union organisations, which continue to call for the harmonisation of teacher training in Senegal.

Diallo said that the university training unit embodied the agreements between the state and the unions on the issue of teacher training and the need to improve the quality of teacher training graduates, whether from colleges or universities. He said this latest development should enable all young teachers to be better trained in all disciplines.

Teuw Niane expressed approval for the fact that the new agreement takes into account the need for sport education, which is huge at the level of intermediate and secondary education institutions.

The rector also said the agreement was particularly important as it established a new partnership between the university and the country's intermediate and secondary schools.

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