Scholarship

Senegal is trying to keep its best graduates on its soil

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They will not see Paris, Lyon or Valenciennes. Not this year. Senegal has decided not to send its best graduates to the French preparatory class during the next academic year. This West African country decided to open for the first time, On October 3, two preparatory science classes within the polytechnic school in Thiès, a city located 70 kilometers east of Dakar, with the aim of training 50 students directly for the Grandes Ecoles entrance exams.

“It’s not specific to our country to have preparation, so it’s a real cultural changenotes Emile Bakhoum, Head of Management Service for Senegalese Students Abroad at the Senegalese Embassy in Paris. Our country will gain by keeping its elite on its soil. »

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In 2016, Senegal signed agreements with six French secondary schools such as Louis-le-Grand and the INSA (National Institute of Applied Sciences) network. These agreements stipulate that around fifty young students can join these prestigious establishments every year – without going through the Parcoursup – to prepare them for the Grandes Ecoles. Once the Senegalese state selects the best elements of the country (out of hundreds of applications), the elected officials will benefit from an aid envied by so many students: they will receive an excellence scholarship with a monthly allowance of 650 euros. that they can only concentrate on their studies.

“Too sudden a break”

This is double the amount allocated to a traditional grant holder (373 euros in Paris, 297 euros in the provinces), which is seven times more than the minimum wage in Senegal. To get a “scholarship scholarship” you need a good or very good distinction at the graduation or a prize in the general competition, which annually rewards the best students in the first and last year.

The decision not to send excellence scholars in France from the beginning of the next school year puts conventions to sleep “at least a year and we’ll see.”Emile Bakhoum explains. The student, if he wishes, can always try to enter a preparatory course in France, but this will be outside the convention: therefore he will not benefit from the scholarship for excellence”.

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Why is Senegal now struggling to retain its brightest students? “If the state has decided not to send any more scholarship holders of excellence, it is because the graduates of the matriculation scholarships are young, very young, between 17 and 19 years old. And when they come to France, there may be a problem with adaptationemphasizes the diplomat. There is a too sudden break: they go from family warmth to coldness on all levels, with the risk of complete isolation. »

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