In June 2015 Senegal contributed over 3,500 personnel to UN peacekeeping operations. That makes Senegal the sixth greatest contributor worldwide and the third largest in Africa.
The international language of peacekeeping
How do military and police personnel co-ordinate and communicate on UN missions? They use English! It’s essential for all personnel to be able to communicate clearly and efficiently with their international colleagues, whether they are from Ethiopia, Indonesia, Pakistan or Yemen. On UN missions such as those in Darfur, Sudan (UNAMID) and South Sudan (UMMISS), where Senegal is contributing over a thousand personnel, using English ensures that their actions are effectively communicated and co-ordinated.
The role of the British Council
With UK government funding, the British Council and the Department of Management and Training at the Senegalese Armed Forces (SAF) worked in partnership to support the SAF’s ability to work with peacekeeping English. The Peacekeeping English Programme ran between 2013 and 2015 and was based at Cap Manuel in Dakar.
What the programme achieved
Over the three years that it was supported by the British Council, the programme:
- built and equipped a fully operational Peacekeeping English Language Training Centre at Cap Manuel
- trained seven English language instructors and academic management staff to independently deliver high level peacekeeping English courses to military personnel
- created links for future cooperation and knowledge-sharing with the Peacekeeping English Programmes in Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo
- delivered Peacekeeping English courses to nearly 700 military personnel.
Furthermore, the programme was formally endorsed by the SAF as an integral part of their training curriculum both for on-going training in Dakar and quarterly pre-deployment training in Thies.
Benefits of the programme
Reflecting on the benefits of the programme, Sergeant Georges Demba Seck, SAF and Peacekeeping English Programme Academic Co-ordinator, said:
“Not only did it help me continue to improve my own English but it’s also helped to develop my teaching skills and has introduced me to other techniques and methods used in English language teaching (ELT)”.
Sgt Georges also highlighted the helpfulness and professionalism of the British Council trainer. He particularly liked that:
“the Peacekeeping English Project was introducing a new communicative methodology… using up-to-date materials and IT resources.”
He also found that his professional network greatly expanded when he took up the opportunity to attend a prestigious international ELT conference in the UK in 2014.
A lasting legacy
The British Council’s Country Director, Andrew Piner, expressed his pleasure with the programme’s results and wished the cadre of teachers all the best in the future.
He sent his “sincere thanks and gratitude for the fantastic relationship” the British Council had had with the SAF and wished the new training centre all the best for the future, noting that he would “look forward to following [their] successes”.