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Burundi Education Facts


Burundi has a free and formally compulsory nine-year compulsory school. The children should start school at the age of six. Almost all Burundian children start school, but the dropouts are relatively many.

The school system was severely affected by the armed conflict that took place in the country during much of the 1990s, when many teachers were killed or fled and many school buildings were destroyed. For a long time, the children’s absence in school was high, but it dropped significantly during the 2000s and 2010s.

  • COUNTRYAAH: Country facts of Burundi, including geography profile, population statistics, and business data.

The influx of pupils increased especially rapidly when the tuition fee was abolished in 2005. However, as a result, school classes grew and could contain up to 150 pupils. The newly-appointed Nkurunziza government then built lots of new schools. The quality of teaching has suffered when teachers have been too few and new syllabuses have been introduced without preparation.

Although the semester fee has been abolished, it is expensive for parents to keep their children in school. For example, they have to pay for school uniforms and school supplies.

In the lower classes, the teaching is held in the Bantu language, Kirundi, while English and French apply in the higher grades. In high school, teaching is also conducted in Swahili.

The proportion of reading and writing literate adult Burundians has increased during the 2000s and 2010s. It is estimated that around four out of five adults can read and write, slightly more men than women.

A small minority of students go on to the corresponding high school. The only state university is located in Bujumbura. There are also several smaller, private universities.

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Proportion of children starting primary school

96.6 percent (2017)

Number of pupils per teacher in primary school

50 (2017)

Reading and writing skills

61.6 percent (2014)

Public expenditure on education as a percentage of GDP

19.9 percent (2017)

Public expenditure on education as a percentage of the state budget

19.9 percent (2017)



Strict rules for foreign organizations

24 December

Parliament adopts a series of strict rules for the activities of foreign organizations in the country; First and foremost, the rules for their finances are being tightened. Aid and human rights organizations must open accounts with the Central Bank for their assets in foreign currency. While waiting for the government to approve their operations, they must deposit a sum equivalent to one-third of the annual budget there. The organizations are also affected by new administrative fees, and they must report on their business every six months. They are also forced to hire more Huts than Tutsis when recruiting domestic staff. The government has long accused foreign organizations of favoring Tutsi minority.

Assassination attempt on the president’s adviser

December 3

Four senior officers are arrested for suspected involvement in an assassination attempt on Willy Nyamitwe, one of the president’s top advisers. One of Nyamitwe’s bodyguards is killed but he himself escapes with minor injuries.


Organizations are prohibited

October 24th

Five Burundian human rights organizations and five associations, including a journalist association, have their work permits revoked by the government. They are accused of disrupting public order, stirred up hatred and tarnished the reputation of the nation.

Burundi decides to leave the ICC

October 18

Parliament votes to Burundi shall provide the International Criminal Court (ICC), which can make statesmen and other accountable for war crimes and crimes against humanity . ICC investigates allegations of abuse committed in Burundi during the wave of violence since spring 2015. President Nkurunziza signs a law that states that Burundi should leave the ICC. The process is expected to take one year. Burundi then becomes the first country to suspend its membership of the ICC.


The UN sends investigators

September 30th

The UN decides to send a survey team to Burundi to investigate the abuses that three UN experts say have taken place since the wave of violence began in the spring of 2015. The three UN experts are declared persona non grata (undesirable persons) in Burundi, announcing that the country breaks its cooperation with the UN Commissioner for Human Rights.

Opposition leaders are imprisoned

September 29th

Gervais Niyongabo, leader of the opposition party Fedes-Sangira, is arrested by police and arrested. He is accused of being a member of an armed group and posing a threat to state security. Niyongabo is one of the few opposition leaders who has not gone into exile.

UN experts warn of genocide

September 20

Three independent UN experts present a list of people they believe should be prosecuted, some of them for crimes against humanity . The experts say they have found, among other things, evidence of 564 extra-judicial executions, rapes, torture and arbitrary arrests. The majority of those affected opposed President Nkurunziza’s re-election for a third term. The list of suspected perpetrators shall be submitted to the UN Commissioner for Human Rights. The designated persons shall have senior positions in the security forces and shall report directly to the President. The experts also warn that the government’s rhetoric may trigger a genocide . The government rejects the information in the report.


No to UN police

August 3rd

The UN Security Council decides to send 228 policemen to Burundi, but the government refuses to let them in. The government justifies its refusal to oppose all fundamental principles of cooperation within the UN and, in particular, violates Burundi’s sovereignty.


Youth unions are accused of group rape

July 27

Human Rights Watch (HRW) accuses youths within the CNDD-FDD of partying of raping women who they believed had links to the opposition. The youth organization Imbonerakure has long been accused of violence against political opponents. HRW bases the allegations on interviews with more than 70 rape victims in a refugee camp in western Tanzania.

Peace talks beaches

July 12

An attempt to get new peace talks in Tanzania stranded at the last moment when the government’s delegation refuses to meet representatives of the opposition and civil society.


UN warns of state murders

June 26

According to the United Nations Human Rights Office, at least 348 people have been killed by state security forces since April 2015. Among the suspected killers are also militia linked to the government party. The violence in Burundi during this time has driven more than 270,000 people to flee the country.

Scribbling school children are turned off

June 14

More than 230 schoolchildren are suspended from teaching after one of them scribbled on a portrait of President Nkurunziza. For the time being, they have been collectively suspended since everyone has refused to reveal who violated the head of state.


Lifetime Prison for Coup Maker

May 9

Twenty-one army officers are sentenced to life imprisonment for participating in the coup attempt in May 2015.


Burundi is under review by the ICC

April 25

The Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court ICC , Fatou Bensouda, decides to initiate a preliminary investigation of the circumstances in Burundi. She says reports of murders, illegal prisons, torture, rapes and other sexual violence as well as abductions under duress indicate that the abuses fall within the jurisdiction of the ICC.

General murdered

April 25

A prominent general, belonging to the Tutsi people group, is murdered along with his wife as they drive their daughter to school. The car gets shot and is also attacked with hand grenades. General Athanase Kararuza has been a security adviser to one of the country’s vice presidents and former commanders of the international AU force in the Central African Republic.

UN police to Burundi

April 1st

The UN Security Council unanimously adopts a resolution urging Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to draw up plans in consultation with the Burundi government to send an international police force to the country.


The EU withdraws budget support

14th of March

The EU is withdrawing all direct financial support to the Burundi government after failing to take action to find a political solution to the crisis in the country. The EU finances about half the state budget. Disaster relief is not affected by the budget support withdrawn and the EU promises to continue to support the basic needs of the population, but not through the government.

Quarter million on the run

4th of March

According to the UN refugee agency UNHCR, the violence in Burundi since spring 2015 has driven about 250,000 people into flight. More than half have sought shelter in Tanzania, where refugee camps are overcrowded.


AU observers on their way

February 27th

The African Union will send 100 human rights observers and 100 military observers to Burundi, said South African President Jacob Zuma, who led a delegation of African leaders.

Promises of dialogue

February 23

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said during a visit to Burundi that he made promises from both the president and opposition leaders to start a dialogue on ending the ten-month crisis in the country. However, it is unclear which opposition leader President Nkurunziza is prepared to meet, as most are either fugitive or imprisoned or have joined the armed resistance movement. The unrest in Bujumbura mainly continues, with almost daily attacks.

Grenade attacks in Bujumbura

February 15

A small child is believed to have been killed and about 10 people injured in a series of hand grenade attacks in the center of Bujumbura and in a suburb of the capital. Similar attacks have become increasingly common since the end of January, but it is unclear who is behind them.


AU gives in

30th of January

The AU seems to back away from the threat of sending a peace force to Burundi against the government’s will. Disagreement within the African Union means that the organization decides to send diplomats instead of soldiers, hoping to create a dialogue. At the same time, Burundi is being re-elected to a seat on the AU’s Peace and Security Council, which makes it even more difficult to intervene.

No to the UN appeals

January 22

Ambassadors from the 15 countries of the UN Security Council fail to persuade Nkurunziza to join international mediation and to enter the AU’s planned peacekeeping force.

The coup general becomes a rebel leader

January 21st

The newly formed rebel movement Forebu announces that former General Godefroid Niyombare has been named its leader. Niyombare has been on the run since he led the failed coup attempt in May 2014.

Presidents appeal to the UN

January 21st

Two of the country’s former presidents are appealing to the UN Security Council to intervene to prevent a civil war in Burundi and to the AU to send a peace force. Behind the appeal are Domitien Ndayizeye, who was president from 2003-2005, and Jean-Baptiste Bagaza who led the country from 1976 to 1987.

Lifetime for coupe makers

January 16

Four men are sentenced to life imprisonment for attempting to overthrow the government in May 2015. Among them is former Defense Minister Cyrille Ndayirukiye. Nine army and police officers are sentenced to 30 years in prison. Eight soldiers are sentenced to five years and seven are acquitted.

The UN warns of collapse

January 16

UN Human Rights Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein warns in a statement about a near-collapse of law and order in Burundi. He refers to reports of mass rape on women in connection with army raids in December and that mass graves were found in parts of Bujumbura. Eyewitnesses have described how hundreds of people were found dead on the streets following the army’s strike.

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