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Preprimary & Primary Education

Preprimary schools, mainly private ones, are found in urban areas but they are not widely available. Often children are sent to Koranic schools to learn the fundamentals of Islam before they enter primary education and begin the task of learning French.

The school year is divided into three terms, starting in October and ending in June. An average week consists of approximately 30 hours of classes. As a part of the school reform of 1971, primary school was shortened from six to five years. After the five years, students may take the state examination known as the certificat des études primaires élénebtaures (CEPE). Students who pass this test can then take the examen d'entrée en sixième, a highly competitive screening examination. Not everyone who passes both examinations attends secondary schools because of family poverty and lack of space in the schools. Class size averages 70 students per class in urban schools and 48 per class in rural areas.

During the early years of primary school, a large percentage of the time is devoted to teaching children French, which will be the main language of instruction for most of them. Besides French, reading, writing, and arithmetic are the beginning subjects. In later years children are introduced to history, geography, natural science, music, art, and physical education.

The gap between male and female enrollment is narrowing since the early days of independence. In urban areas, the number of male and female students is nearly the same. In rural areas, there continues to be a significant gap.

In the late eighties, attempts were made to accommodate more children in schools. Some steps taken were double sessions, multigrade classrooms, the use of associate teachers who have received only one year of training instead of four, and the return of many primary school teachers from administrative duties to classrooms. As a result of such efforts, about 65,000 additional primary school children were accommodated in 1988 alone. Some significant elements of reform called for by the Etats Générals still remain to be carried out. They include the transformation of textbooks to being based upon Senegalese rather than French experience, published in Senegal, and distributed free of charge to students. They also include instruction in the maternal languages during the early years of primary education and religious education in the public schools.

Additional topics

Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.comGlobal Education ReferenceSenegal - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education