In general, vocational training in Senegal takes three years and students need to be aged 15. They also have to have finished at least primary school to get a state diploma (CAP).
The centre Keur Mame Fatim Konté is open to all, even those who have been completely excluded from school education and a good 200 students participate in the training courses each year. The focus lies on young women, who are more effected by exclusion from education than boys. The fees for the trainings in tailoring, hairdressing and cooking/service are moderate and for the most disadvantaged it is free. Moreover, all the skills necessary are taught in a two year curriculum due to a rigorous schedule with shorter vacations and no strikes, which are so widespread in the country.
The quality of the vocational training at the centre Keur Mame Fatim Konté is well known in the region of Saint-Louis. It is for this reason that the school diploma is quite sufficient for the students, if they have no intention to leave the area. For the others, it is essential to achieve the CAP. The content of the exams is the same for both, except for the school topics.
106 students, 3 of them young men, learn to design, cut and sew clothes. During the first year, they start with sewing by hand and then continue with manual sewing machines and thereafter electric ones. They also learn embroidery by hand and by using special machines.
They learn to take measures and other skills necessary to become qualified tailors. To succeed especially in these fields basic knowledge of mathematics and French are essential.
At the end of the training period, they have the opportunity to achieve a school diploma or if they fulfill the necessary precondition the CAP.
Traditionally, the women in Senegal wear their hair in very extravagant ways for festive occasions, but beauty is also a daily issue. But the 77 young women do not only learn how to do the plaited and upswept hairstyles, but also various make-up styles.
During the training they also learn topics related with biology as an understanding of the stucture of the human hair and skin is also important.
Saint-Louis, offers some jobs in the tourist industry. To be able to find jobs in restaurants or hotels, the students learn to cook traditional as well as international dishes. They learn how to present the menu and also the drinks and food, how to lay a table and other service aspects.
The 52 students are trained in hygiene as well as in safety issues. This is important as they learn to handle really big gas ovens as can be found in hotel kitchens.
The needs of the young girls for education vary a lot. Some have never been at school, some of them dropped out or they are still at highschool to achieve their A-level. The centre offers various classes to teach at least basics like mathematics and French or even support the students to achieve school exams parallel to the vocational training. Therefore, classes are held for English, civil rights and even sports.
While this serves for some as the basic education they have been excluded from it is essential for others to achieve the CAP.
Business and Computer know-how
Additional to the professional training the student learn office applications like excel and word and the utilization of the internet.
It is also important for the students to understand how to set up a business, including business plans, price calculations and other skills like accounting.
During the formation the students improve their knowledge during two internships in local boutiques and salons. After their formation the students are being supported and accompanied to find an employment or more frequently set up their own small businesses.
All students receive free medical care in case they need it.
The children, even the small babies, of the unmarried mothers are being looked after free of charge while their mothers take their courses either by baby sitters or in the pre-school.
Young women do not always receive the necessary support to accomplish a training and in some cases the family situation can be very difficult. A cooperation exists with the Belgian organization terres rouges to provide psychological council.