Compared to surrounding countries, the educational system in Djibouti is flourishing. Though illiteracy remains a problem in the small country in the Horn of Africa, the government has made significant progress in the last decade to make education accessible to a greater percentage of the population. For many reasons, the future of education in Djibouti looks even brighter.

1. Modeled after French educational system
The French educational system has consistently been considered one of the strongest in the world. It separates schooling into three levels (primary, secondary and higher education) and focuses on ensuring that all children enter primary school at a young age. The structure of Djibouti’s educational system is modeled after the French system, and the African country maintains the tradition of trying to enroll as many children as possible in the first years of primary education.

2. Not exclusively French
Although Djibouti follows France’s example, education is not exclusively available to those that speak French. In the past, education in Djibouti was somewhat of an elitist concept. People that spoke the native language could not attend the schools because the lessons were taught in French. Fortunately, this idea has been abandoned and schools readily accommodate the various languages spoken in Djibouti.

3. Number of schools
Djibouti is a small country. Approximately 846,000 people inhabit its less than 9,000 square miles. Given that most of these people live in the capital city, the number of schools in Djibouti is impressive in comparison to other developing countries. In terms of public schools, there are 81 primary schools, 12 secondary schools and two vocational schools. There is also a university.

4. The University of Djibouti
The University of Djibouti is the only institution of higher education in Djibouti, but its effects on the educational system seem much greater. The university offers arts, science, law and technology instruction. The professors are qualified to teach their respective subjects and frequently communicate with professors outside of their own country. The university highlights education on topics related to current affairs in Djibouti, such as the economy, to guarantee that its students graduate with comprehensive knowledge about the market and the “real world” that they will enter.

5. Gender equality
Truthfully, more boys than girls go to school in Djibouti. However, compared to many developing nations, the ratio reflects an improved sense of gender equality. The drop-out rate for females is 1.6 percent, while it rests just below 1 percent for males. At the start of schooling, however, the Ministry of Education in Djibouti takes care to establish equal educational opportunities for boys and girls.

6. Government attention
The government recognizes the importance of education, and has taken steps to make the educational system a primary focus. The country’s national budget allocates more than 20 percent to education and has done so for the majority of the 21st century.

7. Rising enrollment
Due to the government’s high attention to education and the tradition of French education, Djibouti works to increase enrollment rates of children in primary schools. In 2002, 43 percent of primary-aged children were enrolled in formal schooling. That statistic increased to 66 percent in 2006 and 71 percent in 2009. The enrollment rate has been increasing steadily since then.

Most of the progress in education in Djibouti has occurred in the capital city, also called Djibouti. The more secluded and rural areas of the country still need to see improvements in accessibility and quality of education, like many other developing countries.  However, the attention to educating citizens of all ages proves that the government of Djibouti is one of the most proactive in encouraging the growth of academics.

— Emily Walthouse

Sources: Maps of World, UNICEF, Study Lands, Africa Africa
Photo: Vimeo