Senegal looks to digital to enhance higher education

By Issa Sikiti da Silva, Senegal

The West African nation of Senegal is seeking the help of ICTs to boost its tertiary education, which it believes remains static due to the shortage of ‘physical’ institutions of higher learning.

This has emerged at the three day-conference themed Digital at the Service of Development and Cultural Diversity currently taking place in the capital Dakar.

Distance education through the internet seems to be the only alternative that the government thinks could help achieve this goal.

“Distance learning is a new culture of education and training which will ensure that any student living in any location of this country will be trained at the same level with those studying in the best universities of Senegal and abroad,'' higher education and research minister Mary Teuw Niane told the audience on Monday.

Niane said the government was committed to support this project by making available all the ICT tools, including tablets, PCs and internet connection, at the reach of every student to ensure that distance learning ran smoothly, and was accessible to everyone.

Senegal is one of Africa’s biggest spenders on ICTs, having increased its expenditure in ICTs from 6.53% of its GDP in 2002 to 10.75% in 2008, according to the World Bank – far better than ‘big brother’ South Africa.

But the country’s public spending on education seems to be limping, with expenditure in education having decreased from 5.63% of its GDP in 2010 to 5.22% in 2011, according to the World Bank.

Nevertheless, this nation of 13 million people managed to produce over 10 000 graduates between 2012 and 2013, according to the ministry of higher education.

The minister said that it was imperative that Senegal sought other ways to provide training to young people given the fast increase in the number of graduates.


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