Is Senegal, the good student, cited as an example, a giant with feet of clay? With 25% of its budget allocated to education, i.e. more than 6% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP), significant efforts are certainly being made, but for what result? There are more than 1,500,000 children out of school, huge deficits in teaching staff (around 45,000), and a shortage of infrastructure (temporary classrooms that are becoming permanent) with a low completion rate. Strong action, in terms of financing, is needed for an Inclusive Quality Public Education (IQPE) that promotes social justice and development.
Senegal signed up to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015, it has committed to the Continental Strategy on Education for Africa (CESA 2016-2025), and during the 2022 Transforming Education Summit it reiterated and strengthened these commitments, which figure prominently in the Plan for an Emerging Senegal (PES) .
The good intentions are welcome, but there are questions that must be asked.
Given the many and complex needs, the dissatisfaction of stakeholders - parents, teachers and even the government - is the funding adequate? How is the allocated budget managed? How much of this budget reaches the students? Why is the performance of public sector schools so poor that we are seeing the commercialisation of education?
These issues need to be addressed with the actors, especially the teaching profession, through its unions.
SYPROS and the other EI-affiliated unions in Senegal, united in the Union Syndicale pour une Education de Qualité, USEQ, are working together to ensure that public education is restored to its former position, that it is effective and accessible to all, and that private schooling remains just an adjunct form of education and not a source of profit for capitalists.
The unions are committed to advocating for consistent domestic funding of education through fair mechanisms such as taxation, but also for good governance of the education system. The TaxEd alliance project and the new EI campaign Go Public! Fund education are key elements of this strategy.
Education is priceless, it is an absolute priority because it is the solution to other development problems, and it is therefore unacceptable to compare its budget to those of other ministries as our rulers do.
Investing in public education is about reducing disparities, giving equal opportunities to all children, rich, poor, disabled, urban and rural, with qualified teachers and a safe and healthy learning environment; it is about equity and social justice.
We are committed to ensuring that no child is left behind, that no one is deprived of this basic human right and we welcome Education International's ongoing quest to promote it and this new flagship campaign on the financing and privatisation of education being launched on International Education Day.
SYPROS, within the framework of USEQ, will use this campaign to raise awareness among teaching staff and engage them in mobilising for the funding and promotion of IPQE.
This major undertaking will require alliances with other trade unions, parents' associations, student associations and civil society if we are to produce the desired results.
Thus, EI's campaign, in supporting the strengthening of trade union unity, knowledge, and particularly the mastering of the issues and challenges, the means of researching reliable data, advocacy techniques and funding mechanisms, will make a significant contribution to the work of trade unions at the national level, not to mention the effect that the international dimension of this campaign could have on governments.
It is the sum of the successes of trade unions at country level that will make this important campaign Go Public! Fund education a success.
Education is a community affair, so let us all, trade unions, parents, civil society, mobilise for Inclusive, Public, Quality Education and against the commodification of Education.
A policy framework aimed at getting Senegal onto the road to development by 2035.
The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect any official policies or positions of Education International.