When you step off the plane in Senegal’s capital of Dakar, you’ll likely meet someone who will tell you about teranga, or the welcoming nature of Senegal and its people. Senegal is the Western-most country on the contiguous continent of Africa, and an ideal location since it’s a direct flight to both the United States and Europe. During your time in Senegal, you will likely be teaching students who are eager to learn, in hopes of opening up more opportunities for themselves in the future.
The two main cities with teaching opportunities in Senegal are Dakar and St. Louis. Both cities are on the Atlantic ocean, so if you choose one or the other, make sure to pack your swimwear!
Dakar is Senegal’s capital and an exciting urban destination, especially for individuals who want the adventure of teaching in Sub-Saharan Africa without sacrificing amenities like running water and electricity. Teachers can teach in Dakar by day, listen to great African music by night, and soak up the sunshine on Dakar’s beaches during the weekends. If you take a stroll along the Corniche, the main highway in the capital with sidewalks made for strolling, you’ll see men working out on the beach preparing for traditional wrestling competitions and locals enjoying “beachy” activities. Teaching opportunities are most prevalent at prestigious private schools or bilingual academies in Dakar. Most individuals who teach in Dakar teach English, K through 12 classes, or seek out private tutoring opportunities.
St. Louis was the capital of Senegal during colonial times and is a favorite getaway for expats and locals alike. Choicely located at the mouth of the Senegal river and the banks of the Atlantic Ocean, St. Louis boasts charming architecture and the chance to teach in Senegal in a smaller city, which still offers basic amenities. Home to the most well-known jazz festival in Africa, St. Louis also has a great nightlife. Opportunities to teach in St. Louis are most often available at private schools or the Gaston Berger University.
Teaching Jobs in Senegal
Senegal is still working to provide a quality education for all of citizens, so not everyone has access to a school or teachers that are fully equipped to meet their educational needs. As such, teaching opportunities in Senegal can prove to be challenging, but equally fulfilling, as those who are able to attend school are motivated to learn.
Responsibilities. Teachers will most often have the opportunity to teach English in Senegal, or a subject related to their educational background. While teachers be required to follow the established curriculum, they will also be able to incorporate creativity into lessons on women’s rights, religion, or social studies, for example. Teachers with certifications or licenses in education are highly sought after for teaching jobs in Senegal, though you can also secure a position without them. International teachers will likely work alongside local teachers, and assist with establishing groups like English Clubs to promote pronunciation, conversation, and fluency skills.
Academic Institutions. The majority of teaching opportunities in Senegal are available at private institutions, as the Ministry of Education continues to develop more resources to assist locals in attaining English fluency. Private institutions encompass a spectrum of schools, from schools run by NGOs, which provide an alternative to underfunded public schools, to international schools that cater to wealthy Senegalese children and children of expats.
Language Requirements. English teachers are not required to speak French, or the majority local dialect, Wolof, in order to teach in Senegal. However, it will be helpful to speak some French and to learn some phrases in the local language in order to get around, as English will not get you too far in Senegal.
Schedule. Teachers can expect to have public holidays off, which includes holidays celebrated in Islam, as Senegal is a majority Muslim country. The school year typically runs from October to June, and teachers can expect to be in the classroom from 8 a.m to 3 p.m.
Salaries & Cost
Teachers can expect to earn $20,000 to $30,000 annually if teaching in Senegal at a well-known school. The cost of living in Senegal is low, so if you avoid imported items then a salary of this amount is more than enough to live well on. Teachers working for lesser known schools or doing the majority of their teaching in Senegal as a private tutor can expect to earn less. However, almost any type of teaching job in Senegal will provide enough to make ends meet. A Coke costs from $1 to $2 and a nice meal out can cost from $10 to $15. If negotiated beforehand, teachers can expect their flight to be paid for by their employer or host school, and also have assistance in locating accommodation.
Accommodation & Visas
Depending on where you teach in Senegal, you can expect to live in homestay, an apartment complex with other teachers, or in a shared apartment. Teachers should take advantage of living in one of the most welcoming countries in the world, by renting a room in a shared compound with locals. This housing arrangement will allow teachers to learn more about the Senegalese culture, and have the opportunity to share their own background, and improve their French and Wolof language skills.
Americans are no longer required to obtain a visa in order to travel to Senegal. For those interested in teaching in Senegal longer term, however, a visa will be required. You can obtain a work permit through a Senegalese embassy, in collaboration with your placement organization or host school. The visa and resident permit process can be cumbersome, though not impossible, to navigate so you will want help from your local contact. Make sure to bring multiple copies of all the papers requested and to take deep breaths, it will all be worth it!
Benefits & Challenges
More Opportunity with a TEFL. You will have a better chance of finding a teaching job in Senegal if you have a TEFL certification in hand. However, there are opportunities to earn your TEFL certification in Senegal, and then obtain a teaching job in country.
Window to West Africa. Teaching jobs in Senegal will give you the unique chance to work in a Francophone Sub-Saharan African country. After living in Senegal, you will be able to explore the rest of West Africa, though there is plenty to explore without leaving Senegal!
- Tough Market to Enter. Finding a teaching job in Senegal that matches your background and salary needs may be difficult, but placement organizations can help you find a great position.