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Education in Madagascar - An Overview

In ancient times education was not considered as a separate entity in Madagascar. Education was considered as meant for high society and rich class people. People were taught basically how to behave and live life. This was David Jones of London Missionary Society who established a school in Antananarivo in 1820. The King Radama I sponsored this school and Jones's first students were children of the royal family.

Literacy spread as a result of the schools the Imerina missionaries built; by 1835 approximately 15000 Malay populations were able to write, and read the new Malagasy language.  Later, Queen Ranavalona- I heavily deducted the budget on education, despite this both protestant and Roman Catholic institutions continued to grow.  During colonial era, French government started a system of public schools which was divided into two parts-

  • Elite Schools- These schools were based on French model of education and reserved for the French children;

  • Indigenous Schools for the Malagasy children- These schools were designed to offer practical and vocational education. Middle-grade Malagasy civil servants and functionaries were trained at the ecoles regionales (regional schools), the most important of which was the Ecole le Myre de Villers in Antananarivo. Post World War II reforms in public school system took place to provide Malagasy more educational opportunities. When country got independence in 1960 the education system was very much identical to that of France.
Education in Madagascar is compulsory for children between the age of six and fourteen years. Children start attending primary school at the age of 6 years; the duration of primary education is 5 years. After successful completion of primary education students join Secondary School.  The duration of secondary schools is seven years distributed over junior secondary school of 4 years and senior secondary school of three years duration.

Generally children 12 to 15 years old attend junior secondary school, and 16 to 18 years senior secondary school.

After finish of junior school, students awarded a certificate and after finish of Senior school baccalaureat (the equivalent of a high school diploma).

A vocational secondary school system, the college professionelle (professional college), is the equivalent of the junior secondary level; the college technique (technical college), which awards the baccalaureat technique (technical diploma), is the equivalent of the senior level.

In 1955, the University of Madagascar was established as an Institute for Advanced Studies, renamed in 1961 is the main institute of higher education. The institute has six separate branches in Antananarivo, Antsiranana, Fianarantsoa, Toamasina, Toliara, and Mahajanga. (Prior to 1988, the latter five institutions were provincial extensions of the main university in Antananarivo).

The university system consists of several faculties, including law and economics, sciences, and letters and human sciences, and numerous schools that specialize in public administration, management, medicine, social welfare, public works, and agronomy.

Madagascar is striving continuously to improve quality of education and teaching and to improve the success rate of students. The average number of years required to complete degree programs is 8 to 10. Only 10 percent students are able to complete degree program. The baccalaureat is required for admission to the university. Madagascar also has teacher-training colleges.  The educational vistas have grown gradually in Madagascar, which further paved the way for elevation of Malagasay society and raising the literacy level.

The national education system in Madagascar has always been in the eye of public debate. Educational qualifications are not really helpful in getting work opportunity and country also has limited resources where job can be secured. Though this is the case across Africa, and not only in Madagascar.
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