Education Systems in Africa Part IX: Central African Republic

In 1997 the Central African Republic, through its Education Policy Act, provided free education for all children. The country follows the French model, and primary school is compulsory, although not enforced.  Unfortunately, decades of political violence have caused widespread displacement and created shortages of infrastructure and teachers; enduring civil conflict presents ongoing challenges to educators and students.

Preprimary education is offered in larger cities and towns through government-sponsored écoles maternelles, and aims to prepare young children for formal schooling. Primary schools lasts six years and is comprised of two levels. At the end of their sixth year students earn a certificate of completion (Certificat d’études fondamental, or CEP) and sit for exit exams to determine their placement in secondary school.

Secondary school students pursue either an academic baccalaureate certificate, which qualifies them for university studies, or a technical/vocational certificate, the Certificat d’Aptitude Professionnelle.

The following chart depicts the grading scale for secondary and post-secondary institutions:

Grade

Description

Translation

U.S. Grade Equivalence

16-20

Très Bien

Very Good

A+

14-15

Bien

Good

A

12-13

Assez Bien

Good Enough

B

10-11

Passable

Passing

C

0-9*

Ajourné

Fail

F

Primary students study French, English, mathematics, natural sciences, history and geography, home economics, and physical education.  Some technical and vocational instruction is offered to students in the last two years of primary school.

Secondary students’ curriculum includes French, English, history/geography, mathematics, physics, biology, chemistry, home economics, and vocational programs.

Higher education in the Central African Republic is offered by the University of Bangui, which provides teacher, health sciences, business, and legal training.  Specialized institutions include two agricultural colleges and a national arts college.