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William Ponty, École

The New Oxford Companion to Literature in French

Mohamadou Kane

William Ponty, École. 

This école normale was founded in Gorée, Senegal, in 1913 to replace the earlier training college set up in Saint‐Louis in 1903. In 1938 the school moved to Sébikhotane, 45 kilometres from Dakar, and later to Thiès (1938) and Kolda (1979). Ponty had three sections—Education, Administration, and Medicine. Students, drawn from all over French West Africa, were admitted after three years in a Senior Primary School on the basis on a competitive examination. The school turned out highly competent staff to assist the French in running the colonies. Many Ponty products took high office in their respective governments after Independence. The first African writers came from the school, which is best known as the cradle of modern African theatre: Ponty theatre owes its existence to the guidance and encouragement of the French. The achievements of the school stemmed from the fact that it represented the highest level of university education available in the colonial system, and was dedicated to turning out a new élite which would not be cut off from its African roots.

[Mohamadou Kane]