On the western shores of Central Africa — bounded by the Atlantic Ocean, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, and the Republic of Congo — is a nation covered in dense forests and home to a wealth of natural resources. With a population over 1.7 million, the Gabonese Republic is Africa’s fifth largest oil producer and is known for its manganese, uranium and lumber exports. It is one of the most stable nations in Africa and has been a member of the U.N. since 1960. In 2014, government education expenditure was 2.67 percent of GDP. Here are five facts about Education in Gabon:
- According to the Global 2016 Human Development Report, Gabon ranked 109 out of 188 nations. This is an incremental improvement from 2015 when the nation was ranked 110; a change which may be attributed to the Gabonese Republic’s 2014 Human Investment Strategy (SIHG).
- The French Ministry of National Education, Higher Education, Technical Education and Vocational training oversees the compulsory school system, which is structured in a 5-4-3-year fashion for primary, lower secondary and upper secondary school, respectively. The academic year runs from October to June.
- Primary school education in Gabon begins at age six and lasts until age 11. Primary school students earn two certificates, the Certificat d’Etudes primaires élémentaires (CEPE) and the concours d’entrée en sixième. The latter determines their secondary school progression. At the secondary level (ages 12-18), students earn a baccalauréat after successful completion of their schooling.
- With respect to higher education in Gabon, there are 11 universities, four institutes (medicine, business, economics, computer science), a National School of Law and Secretary Learning National School. Technical and vocational education opportunities are available in administrative, forestry, medical, management and biotechnology-related fields.
- Gabon has one of the highest primary enrollment rates in Africa: 96.4 percent. However, the school system is plagued by high repetition and low completion. According to UNESCO, Gabon also has a significant science graduate deficit.
The nation depends on global oil demand for its economic health and remains highly susceptible to changes in the energy market. Effects of oil price sensitivities on the nation’s social development is not well-documented or properly defined. Moreover, reliable (and current) socioeconomic and educational data is not readily available.
Data collection on poverty, infrastructure, price indices and income distribution are needed to improve fiscal policy and private sector investments in education.
– JG Federman