Government ‘satisfied’ with reforms, despite delays

The Senegalese government is satisfied with progress in carrying out its reforms under the Presidential Council on the Future of Higher Education and Research, or CNEAS. But there are delays in accomplishing some important measures, according to press reports.

The rate of carrying out the reforms according to the schedule was ‘very satisfactory’, according to a statement released at the second meeting of the inter-ministerial council set up under CNEAS to monitor the reforms, which are budgeted to cost at least FCFA3 billion (US$6.36 million), reported Le Soleil of Dakar.

Giving a progress report to the press, Higher Education and Research Minister Mary Teuw Niane said conditions of work and study for students in universities had advanced.

There were more than 900 extra places available in student accommodation at the universities of Dakar – Alioune Diop de Bambey and Gaston Berger de Saint-Louis, or UGB. More than 300 beds would soon be available at Thiès University.

UGB had a new complex containing a 1,000-seat lecture hall, 14 classrooms, four rooms for practical work, 20 offices for lecturers and other facilities. The library was about to expand from 300 places to 1,200, he said.

The framework law for governance of universities was on track, as was an order concerning a new student grants policy, Le Soleil reported the minister as saying.

Niane told the inter-ministerial council that it was necessary “to stay on course, to respect the operational plan drawn up to meet the challenges”.

Excellence challenges

But Sud Quotidien of Dakar reported that in spite of the government’s satisfaction, challenges remained to setting higher education on the path of excellence.

While the establishment of management committees had been given priority, introducing franchises for universities and for police to ensure campus security were behind schedule, as were other committees for social dialogue and systems for mediation and career management for teachers, researchers and other staff, said Sud Quotidien.

The paper said that because of delays in enacting university governance measures, demonstrations had become common. The authorities and the students made selective interpretations and argued over each other’s lack of respect for the regulations, it said.

At the council meeting Niane also announced a plan to develop by 2017 a 12-hectare site to accommodate the Ministry of Higher Education and Research, the national scientific research centre and associated laboratories, and other organisations associated with the sector, reported Le Soleil. FCFA1 billion had been earmarked for the ministry headquarters in the 2014 budget, it said.

* An agreement to facilitate employment possibilities for graduates who have followed an Islamic rather than a ‘French’ education has been signed between Senegal’s employers’ confederation, CNES, the Islamic University of Cheikh Ahmadou Bamba and the Group Al Azhar, reported Le Soleil.

The two higher education institutions hoped the agreement would help them find solutions to problems of graduate unemployment. Mansour Kama, president of CNES, said he hoped the action would break the myth of ‘incompatibility’ between Arab education and modern knowledge.

Baba Ousseyrou Ly, secretary general of the education ministry who attended the signing, said: “The originality of this partnership lies in the fact that religious values, carriers of human development, will be combined with professional training,” reported Le Soleil.

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