Madagascar Education

Madagascar is one of the poorest countries in the world and that is reflected in the less than 3% of GDP that is spent on its education system compared with just over 5% for similar countries in Africa. Its education system is modelled on the French high school system it inherited on independence from France in 1960.

Whilst some of the figures here seem depressing they should be set against a background of much improvement since independence. For example in 1972, 100,000 children attended around 300 secondary schools but by 1998 this figure had risen to some 500,000 pupils attending 2,000 newly constructed secondary schools.

Madagascar EducationEducation is divided into primary education (6 - 11 yrs), and secondary education sub divided into junior (12 - 15yrs) and senior (16 - 18 yrs.) However a recent survey noted than around one third of all children in Madagascar had no access to primary education and education is only compulsory for children between the ages of six and fourteen perhaps accounting for the relatively high illiteracy rate of 31.1%.

Furthermore the most recent data indicates that 44% of all primary school aged girls are out of education reflecting a cultural attitude that females should remain at home focussing on domestic tasks and childcare.As one eight year in Madagascar old stated about his education "I like it a lot. I learn English, French, and other things. Most children in my country go to primary school, but only a small number ever go to high school." In fact just 2.2% go on to tertiary education.

The curriculum at the junior stage of secondary school covers mathematics, natural science, Malagasy language, civics and religion, French and English together with history, geography, arts and physical education. At the end of this period the children, who have normally be taught in classes of around 53, are awarded a certificate. Those who remain in senior education graduate with a diploma, the baccalauréat having studied advanced mathematics, natural science, basic technology, French, Malagache ~ the official national language ~ history, geography, civics, religion and physical education.

Madagascar Education SystemRegrettably Madagascar education has deteriorated within the last few years following an army backed coup. Bruno Maes, the Madagascar representative for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported:

"The impact on children is severe. We are seeing a minimum 20-30% decrease in the education budget; as a result, funds and materials are not reaching schools. The second impact of the crisis is an increased vulnerability of already poor families, which means that more children are having to work."

The quality of education in Madagascar is further hampered by a lack of clean water. Most schools in Madagascar do not have running water. As a result many pupils frequently fall sick and don't attend classes impacting on their already disadvantaged education. In fact only 18% of Madagascar's schools have access to drinking water and only 30% have toilets. Children are encouraged to bring bottles of water to school to drink and clean themselves. One nine year old school boy who regularly suffers from diarrhoea stated "I draw from a river close to our house. I drink it when I am thirsty, even if it is not clean."


Madagascar Education System

This photograph was taken at a primary school in Antananarivo, Madagascar in 1908 during the colonial period when education in Madagascar was seen as a way of creating a productive workforce for the country's colonial masters.

Madagascar Education

Madagascar Education

Madagascar Education

Madagascar Education



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Madagascar Education: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license

The video (right) explores the current education system in Madagascar

This video shows one education project in Madagascar where the community came together to build a school to provide an appropriate facility for local children to receive a good education.


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