Education in Niger
Education in Niger like that of other developing nations, particularly in the Sahelian region of Africa, faces challenges from poverty and poor access to schools. Although education is compulsory between the ages of seven and fifteen, Niger has one of the lowest literacy rates in the world.
Organization of Formal Education
The education system of Niger is organized as such:
- Pre-school (Préscolaire)
- Primary school (Enseignement primaire) (6 years)
- Secondary school (Enseignement secondaire)
- 1st Cycle (4 years)
- 2nd Cycle (3 years)
- Higher education
- University - License (3 years), Masters (2 years), Doctorate (3 years)
- Technical Institutes - DUT (University Technical Diploma (French) (2 years)
Primary education is composed of six levels: C.I. (Cours d’Initiation or Initiation Class), C.P. (Cours Préparatoire or Preparatory Class), C.E.1(Cours Élémentaire 1 or Elementary Class 1), C.E.2 (Cours Élémentaire 2 or Elementary Class 2), CM1 (Cours Moyen 1 or Middle Class 1) and CM2 (Cours Moyen 2 or Middle Class 2). The primary school enrollment and attendance rates are low, particularly for girls. Some figures suggest that in 1997, the gross primary enrollment rate was 29.3%, and in 1996, the net primary enrollment rate was 24.5%. However reliable statistics vary because there is no definitive count of the number of school-age children.
About 60% of children who finish primary schools are boys, as the majority of girls rarely attend school for more than a few years. Children are often forced to work rather than attend school, particularly during planting or harvest periods. Traditionally, parents have been reluctant to send their children to school. In the 1960s, the government sent the army to rural villages to compel school attendance and villagers hid their children, fearful of what would happen to them. More recently parents have failed to register their children's births to avoid later school enrollment. Head teachers, who are responsible for recruitment in rural areas, can be reluctant to travel outside their own villages to persuade parents to allow their children to attend school.
Determined to raise the Gross Enrolment Ratio of primary education from a low rate of 41.7% in 2002 to 94% by 2012, the Government of Niger designed Comité de Gestion des Establissements Scolaires, or COGES, by establishing a management committee for each school. Each management committee includes three representatives of the parents’ association, a representative of the mother’s association, a representative of the teachers, and where applicable a pupils representative. The Head teacher serves as secretary of the committee. The Government of Japan provided technical assistance towards the implementation of the “Project to Support the Improvement of School Management through Community Participation”, though known generally as the “School for All” (SFA).
COGES currently manages approximately 97% of Niger’s primary schools. The responsibilities of the COGES encompass monitoring teacher attendance and performance, management of the school’s finances (including raising funds) and school infrastructure, including the construction of classrooms and sanitary facilities, procurement of textbooks and other relevant supplies. In short, the committee oversees the overall expenditure of the school. The key components of a functional COGES are: democratic elections of the leadership of the committee; school action plans for the year; and systematic monitoring of the activities of the project.
In view of these developments, the elementary school intake ratio at Grade 1 improved from 40% to 98.6% between 2001 and 2010 and the gross school enrolment ratio also went up from 37% to 72.9%. The school completion rate during the period also improved from 25% to 48%.
There are five universities in Niger. The first and biggest, the Abdou Moumouni University in Niamey was founded as the University of Niamey in 1974. The Islamic University of Niger in Say was opened in 1986. In 2008, two public universities, the University of Zinder in Zinder and University of Maradi in Maradi were created. In 2010, the University of Tahoua was created in Tahoua. In 2014, it was announced that four additional universities will be created in Agadez, Diffa, Dosso and Tillaberi.
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- Creation of Four Public University in Some Regions in Niger. Article published by the Agence Nationale de Presse on March 7th, 2014.Last accessed on 9/20/2014.
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