Primary-school teachers are trained in the écoles normales. Technical school teachers are trained in the two technical teacher training colleges. Secondary school teachers must have earned the maîtrise (a diploma obtained after one or two years of study following the license, which takes three years). The university also prepares instructors for middle-level teacher training colleges over the two-year period after they have completed their first year of university education. At the university level, there are five levels of faculty, plus the highest level, professeur titulaire de chaire, which carries life tenure.
Approximately 22 percent of school teachers are female, and men are more likely than women to occupy administrative posts in schools. In 1990, schools employed just over 16,000 full-time teachers (Sow 1995). Shortages of teachers in mathematics, the physical sciences, and classical languages are frequent, while schools in rural areas and other undesirable locations are often difficult to staff. To address the latter problem, government policy calls for beginning teachers to be sent to such posts before accepting their application for an urban position. At the primary level, a long-standing program of two hours per week peer coaching has been carried out in all public schools since the early seventies, providing an irreplaceable form of professional development and education.
The training of private school teachers is conducted by the private schools themselves. The Catholic system has set up its own training institutions to meet this need.
In the late 1970s, teachers' unions demanded radical improvements in the school situation, leading to reforms in 1981 (Sow 1995). It is the teachers' unions, along with student unions, that have brought about the greatest changes to the curriculum. This is in spite of the fact that, after the strikes of 1979-1980, a number of the union leaders were dismissed from their teaching posts.
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