Rapid progress on higher education reform – Minister

The 10-year reform of higher education and research announced in 2014 was already nearly fully implemented, and half the government’s decisions had been completed after only three years, according to the Higher Education and Research Minister Mary Teuw Niane.

“In 2014, the head of state [President Macky Sall] took 11 decisions to rectify higher education to make it a lever for economic and social development, and set it on the road to excellence in the following 10 years,” the Agence de Presse Sénégalaise, or APS, reported Niane as saying.

“In only three years after putting this presidential programme into operation, 95.65% of the planned actions are being carried out: 49.28% of actions have been completed and there remain 46.38% to be applied,” Niane told students at the University Assane Seck de Ziguinchor.

He said the programme would cost FCFA440 billion (US$735 million), compared with an initial budget of FCFA302 billion (US$505 million), reported APS.

“The greatest part of the investment, 40%, has been provided by the private sector; the state and development partners having contributed 36% and 25% respectively,” said Niane, who gave details of the work being carried out.

Projects under the reform included: 100 laboratories under construction in the universities and at the École Polytechnique de Thiès; the Université Virtuelle de Sénégal, and open digital areas being built in a number of towns; regional centres providing universities’ student services such as catering, housing and health; and institutions such as the Cité du Savoir de Diamniadio in the Dakar region.

One of the 11 measures, the law reforming universities, would improve the careers of lecturers, researchers and non-teaching staff, said Niane. The student information website Campusen “strengthens democratisation of students’ access to higher education, transparency and equity”.

Niane also presented the new university management scheme which included “programmes extending and renovating existing universities, decentralised university branches and a network of professional higher education institutes”, reported APS.

Mobility grants had been allocated to open up Senegalese research and higher education to other countries in Africa and the world, said Niane. His ministry had carried out an audit into the finances and responsible agencies; and a substantial increase in university budgets had been initiated.

His department was aiming to “develop professional education …, support students in the studies they had chosen, diversify working languages and adapt courses to the needs … of society,” reported APS.

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