Senegalese children have opportunities to receive a good education – but whether or not they can actually take advantage of these opportunities largely depends on the class they’re born into.
This international university is one option for post-secondary education for students, offering all levels from degrees from bachelor’s to Ph.D. But the biggest school (and the one with the best reputation) by far is Cheikh Anta Diop University, with an enrollment of around 60,000 students. The school offers all levels of degrees and draws students from Africa and elsewhere.
Many Senegalese children will never see a college classroom, however – or perhaps not even a high school classroom. Much like Western school systems, public school is free for kids, but the system in Senegal often has trouble accommodating the huge number of young children who are school-ready.
If a family owns a business that’s destined to be taken over by a later generation, or if they simply don’t have the means to send their children to school or don’t place value on education, formal schooling is often foregone in favor of an apprenticeship to learn a trade. This is more common than not, with fewer than half of Senegalese kids enrolled in school. This figure may be a bit higher in Dakar, where various programs have been put into place to get more kids a formal education.
Rachael Cullins is a twentysomething American girl living in Dakar, Senegal, with her husband and two dogs. She blogs about her adventures in Senegal and travels elsewhere in West Africa. She will reside in Dakar until summer 2013, when she and her family will move to another foreign post as part of her husband’s career with the U.S. government. In addition to West Africa, she has traveled to France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Italy and Costa Rica and plans to continually add to that list.