Source: Directorate of Communication and Publications of the Ministry for Basic Education and Literacy 16 In order to fill this multi-task teaching posts in basic education (DFCs and MGCs) with massive syllabuses (bilingual education), the authorities are increasingly resorting to National Development Service staff who very often have no teacher training, as well as to teaching assistants, i.e. staff who do not possess all the required professional qualifications.
The study by Mamadou SISSOKO et al. indicated that, out of some 14,000 teaching staff – including just under 3,500 women (25%) – working in primary schools in the 1996/1997 period, over 40% were underqualified.
Between 1991 and 1996, out of 9,440 new teachers, only 3,150 (i.e. one-third) had undergone teacher training at one of the National Schools for Primary Teachers (ENEP17) in Loumbila, close to Ouagadougou, in Bobo-Dioulasso in the western region, in Fada (east) or at Ouahigouya (north).
These schools made it possible to lower the ratio between Teaching Assistants/Qualified Teaching Assistants and Qualified Teachers/Head Teachers from 3 in 1991 to 1.5 in 2000 (See Table 2.4 below). However, the duration of the teacher training courses provided by these schools was reduced from two years to one year.
The use of underqualified teachers, combined with overcrowded curricula and the reorganisation of the provision of education, can negatively influence the quality of education and hence the effectiveness of the new schools.
Another factor negatively affecting the bilingual education system is the existence, in the larger cities, of “bilingual schools” offering tuition in French and English (in order to prepare students more adequately for the globalised economy) and, in the guise of practical training, basic computing skills, i.e. learning to use Playstation, Game Cubes and other Nintendo software. By 2000, there were already 15 French-English bilingual schools in Ouagadougou and 5 in Bobo-Dioulasso18.
The fees charged by these urban bilingual schools are of the order of 130,000 CFA francs (including supplies, the school uniform and meals), i.e. roughly twice the annual income required to live above the poverty line.
Some unions are already of the opinion that bilingual education will deepen the existing gap between “education for the rich” and “education for the poor”. The SNEAB19 speaks of “stratification leading to different quality levels”.
“The children of the wealthy are in private schools, equipped with materials conducive to successful teaching and learning…whereas the children from the most disadvantaged social groups find themselves in schools lacking the most basic equipment and are therefore condemned to failure.”20
As long as all the key business activities – and the competitions for access to the best-paid jobs – are conducted in French, the rural bilingual schools based on “French and a national mother tongue” will necessarily be regarded as “French/Afrikaner” schools – a way of diverting the children of the poor from those jobs and channelling them towards agriculture, stockbreeding and the crafts. In other words, they will be seen as the old rural schools in a new wrapper.
1.3 The transition from national education to regional education The strategies pursued by the authorities and their partners seem to have been largely dictated by the need to contain costs, which arguably are still quite high.
The Terms of Reference of the study on the use of contractual teachers in local communities, endorsed by the World Bank under the PDDED21, stipulate that “the (29,000) primary school teachers to be recruited at decentralised level over the next ten years, will be recruited on terms comparable to those offered to community teachers in satellite schools, i.e. with salaries ranging from 3.5 to 5 times GDP per capita, depending on seniority. The implementation of this measure would result in an average cost equivalent to about 4.7 times the country’s GDP per capita.”
Therefore, the authorities are striving to reduce the average salary costs of education by resorting to teaching assistants. The World Bank believed that the initial training of teachers was absorbing an excessive proportion of available resources22.
The World Bank successfully argued that resources could be put to better use by assigning them to the permanent in-service training of teachers. However, while it is true that training sessions are held regularly, the teachers’ “guidance ratio” (i.e. the number of Travelling Educational Counsellors + Primary Education Inspectors divided by the total number of teachers) dropped from 1/39 in 1991 to 1/43 in 2000, and was as low as 1/58 in 1996 (see Table 2.4 below).
The fact remains that it is considerably cheaper to employ unqualified teachers, given that they will start their careers on a lower salary.
In the 1997 report on the SAPs, we read that “the creation of the satellite schools and the Informal Basic Education Centres flows from a policy aimed at finding new alternative schemes to ensure the education system is more efficient and more affordable for the State as well as for local authorities and families.”
The ministerial press of the Ministry for Basic Education and Literacy (MEBA)23 remarks that “bilingual schools are more economical in absolute terms than traditional schools and clearly surpass them because of their comparative advantages:
In terms of duration and results, bilingual schools are more efficient than traditional schools;
- The equipment required for one class per school.
Through the new education policy, not only does the State carry out significant savings but we see a shift from national education to regional education since local authorities are entrusted with the task of developing basic education, purchasing the required land, building and managing primary schools…” (See box.)
Looking at the situation from a different angle, the costs of school infrastructures have almost doubled since 1994, following the devaluation of the CFA franc, given that most construction materials have to be imported. As a result, a larger contribution has been requested from students’ parents, the local communities and associations to finance investment in schools and meet their running costs (contributions in kind, water duty and various fees, including a fee for the purchase of teaching materials and school supplies). A strategy to reduce building costs is currently being developed but an effort is also required to determine more accurately the breakdown of the expenditure and operating costs of schools and how the burden of these costs is to be shared among the various stakeholders. SAP Report, 1997.
Table 2.4: Evolution of personnel of the Ministry for Basic Education and Literacy, by category of worker and gender from 1990 to 2000.