Leading university launches performance contract

A performance contract worth more than US$18 million between the University Cheikh Anta Diop (UCAD) of Dakar and Senegal’s Ministry of Higher Education and Research has been officially launched, with five principal objectives and the aim of achieving excellence in five years.

Le Soleil of Dakar reported the launch of the contract through which, with support from the World Bank, the ministry has granted 9 billion francs (US$18.26 million) to the university over five years.

The five main objectives were improvement of internal efficiency; use of information technologies in educational strategies; development of links with the world of work; improving the quality of education; and improvement of governance, reported Le Soleil.

These would be achieved by application of "15 strategies and 26 actions", which were unspecified.

Rector Saliou Ndiaye said the contract, a major project of the university, was the fruit of the commitment of all members of the academic community of UCAD and its partners, an institution that constituted 41 establishments, 1,330 teaching and research staff, 1,313 administrative, technical and service personnel, 75,200 students on campus and 35,000 distance learners.

The contract was an administrative and regulatory formality, but for Minister of Higher Education and Research Mary Teuw Niane it was “the beginning of the process that would give back to UCAD its reputation for excellence”, reported Le Soleil.

“UCAD, mother of all Senegal’s universities, has an important role to play in education for quality human resources who, through their knowledge and expertise, must participate in the economic emergence of Senegal,” said Niane.

He expected that the contract could help find solutions to the many problems confronting the university, but stressed the need for commitment from everyone involved.

He explained that the contracts were a means whereby the state could influence the results universities achieved, by channelling additional funds to specific areas so necessary changes of strategy could be realised.

Niane said that beyond the performance contract “there is a new vision of higher education we must encourage – that is, for the state increasingly to determine by how much universities’ resources rise, depending on their achievement in the essential areas of their operations, as they conform to state policies for the sector”.

He added that the contracts were not an end in themselves, but that universities should use them as a springboard for future cooperation, partnerships and the search for funding.

Niane had previously talked about the contracts, signed between the ministry and all public universities, during a New Year interview in Sud Quotidien.

The operations director of the World Bank for Senegal, Vera Songwé, said the performance contracts programme was ambitious but quite feasible, reported Le Soleil. All the necessary financial resources had been granted to the universities concerned, and the bank would always be prepared to offer technical support when asked.

She said UCAD’s contract was part of a bigger Senegalese government programme to which the World Bank was giving up to US$100 million for various major projects.

* This article is drawn from local media. University World News cannot vouch for the accuracy of the original report.