Higher education in Senegal during COVID-19

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SIOUX FALLS, South Dakota – Quality education is a stepping stone to ending poverty. In Senegal, crude enrollment rate in higher education was only 7% in 2017. The increase in higher education enrollment in Senegal is important for students to reach their full potential. As the COVID-19 pandemic swept the world, schools closed, affecting their accessibility. In order to increase enrollment and further educate the population, Senegal must continue to work to fight COVID-19.

Cheikh Anta Diop University of Dakar

Senegal has several public and private universities. Over 60,000 students attend the largest Senegalese university, Cheikh Anta Diop University (UCAD), located in Dakar. UCAD was created in 1957 during French colonization and still follows the French system. Named after historian, anthropologist and physicist Cheikh Anta Diop, UCAD has a faculty of medicine and a pharmacy program. It also offers training in engineering, humanities, languages, finance and law.

Although more than 60,000 students attend UCAD, the university has only 5,000 dormitories. Many students live off campus with their families, but others lock up several students in tiny dormitories. Sometimes six or seven students try to fit into a room built for one student. In addition, in classrooms, students are often seated in the aisles because of overloaded classes. In many lessons, overcrowded seating leads to a shortage of chairs in the classroom.

Senegal’s response to COVID-19

As COVID-19 spread around the world, Senegal took action. Many have praised Senegal’s response to COVID-19. In Senegal, testing is free for people with symptoms and hand washing stations are available in public. Additionally, businesses like banks, grocery stores, and restaurants have implemented temperature controls. In addition, the Senegalese government has ordered the temporary closure of schools.

COVID-19 has had a significant impact on school systems in Senegal, including universities. An advisor who works in higher education in Dakar spoke to Project Borgen about how schools and universities in Senegal have responded to the pandemic. She revealed that in March 2020 all schools closed for at least four months. No courses were offered during this period, with the exception of examination courses such as the baccalaureate, a qualifying examination for higher education.

Schools offered online and television courses for students in preparation for their bachelor’s degree. However, students in universities, primary and secondary schools could not take regular online classes due to the lack of reliable and widespread internet access. Only 46% of the Senegalese population had internet access in 2019.

When the government decided to allow schools to reopen in Senegal, many students and parents were reluctant. Once universities finally reopened, schools attempted to introduce preventative policies for COVID-19. Universities and schools have tried social distancing, but in some cases it has not been possible for students to socially distance themselves. Sources said social distancing at UCAD was unthinkable due to overcrowding at the university.

However, the university has taken steps to ensure that students wash their hands and wear masks. Students can find hand washing stations located around the university campus. Although COVID-19 has temporarily closed universities, students have shown themselves to be resilient. Although social distancing is not possible at large universities like UCAD, other preventive policies are in place.

University students battle COVID-19

University students from across Senegal have come together to fight COVID-19 with two projects.

  1. 100,000 students against COVID-19 is an organization created by college students who have teamed up to fight COVID-19 on campus. This organization was formed by students from eight public universities in Senegal with the Virtual University of Senegal and the Gaston Berger University of Saint-Louis in the lead. This initiative has four objectives: Communication monitoring, Awareness and prevention, Identification of opinion leaders and Innovation and initiative. Students could register as volunteers on the initiative’s website. The group also shared news on Facebook and Twitter, and students spread information about COVID-19 by engaging with influencers in the local community. This young group of students ultimately advanced Senegal’s COVID-19 resilience.
  2. Senegalese engineering students from the Ecole Supérieure Polytechnique (ESP) created technology to help hospitals working with COVID-19 patients. ESP, located in Dakar, is the most elite engineering school in the country. Students invented robots like “Dr. Car,” a robot that measures blood pressure and temperature. Robots allow doctors to reach their patients without entering the rooms of contagious patients. Doctors can use remote-controlled robots to steer robots around the room. patient room They can also communicate with their patients via the robot Students have also created automatic disinfectant dispensers.

Higher education in Senegal leads to poverty eradication

University students from Senegal have helped lead the fight against COVID-19. For example, with their graduate studies, engineering students invented robots to help hospitals. By increasing university enrollment, Senegal will move closer to full capacity for productivity and innovation. Education is a powerful tool that can lift people out of poverty. With each additional year of study, income increases by 10%. The enrollment and education of Senegalese students helps them out of poverty.

Senegalese university students are making significant achievements, as evidenced by their COVID-19 projects. It is important for Senegal and other countries to invest in education because it produces knowledgeable people and ensures that they are given the skills necessary to succeed. Higher education in Senegal has made great strides in the fight against COVID-19. The pandemic exposed problems within the education system, but it also showed how education helps students work together. If Senegal’s universities and students continue to work together as they did during COVID-19, Senegal will take one step closer to eradicating poverty.

Lamb Bailey
Photo: Flickr


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