Investments in education in the 2000s have resulted in a rapid increase in the proportion of literate and literate professionals in Gabon. But even though the education sector has been prioritized, there is generally a shortage of teachers and school supplies, especially in rural areas. At the same time, the move into cities makes the schools there often crowded.
The school system is built according to the French model. Teaching takes place in French and nowadays girls go to school to almost the same extent as boys.
In principle, compulsory schooling is between the ages of 6 and 16 and the tuition is free of charge in the state schools. After the six-year compulsory school follows a four-year post-secondary phase and then a three-year first.
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In addition to the state-funded schools, there are schools run by missionaries as well as other private institutions. (President Ali Ben Bongo, himself educated in France, however, has sent one of his sons to the British elite school Eton).
Four out of five children start primary school. However, many of them jump off gradually and a lot of them also go for some class. Not even half of all students go on to the post-secondary stage.
Poor working conditions for teachers, who sometimes have not received their salaries and therefore strike, have led to many interruptions in teaching and affected its quality. In the spring of 2015, the entire school system was paralyzed by an extensive teacher strike.
In the capital Libreville is Omar Bongo University. There are also colleges for administration and law and a couple of research institutes; Masuku/ Franceville has a technical college. In connection with the 55th anniversary of independence in August 2015, President Bongo also said he would like to donate one of the family’s buildings in Libreville to a new university (see Calendar). Many Gabonese receive university education abroad, mainly in France.
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FACTS – EDUCATION
Proportion of children starting primary school
91.3 percent (1997)
Number of pupils per teacher in primary school
Reading and writing skills
82.3 percent (2012)
Public expenditure on education as a percentage of GDP
11.2 percent (2014)
Public expenditure on education as a percentage of the state budget
11.2 percent (2014)
PDG is clearly the biggest in the election
President Bongo’s ruling PDG wins, as expected, the parliamentary elections with 114 of the 120 seats.
The opposition boycott the election
Ahead of the parliamentary elections, which will be held on December 17, 2011, the opposition requires voters to be registered with so-called biometric methods, that is, reading personal characteristics such as voice, face shape and fingerprints. The claim is rejected, which causes 13 parties to boycott the election.
Obame risks prosecution
The banned opposition party NU leader André Mba Obame, who at the beginning of the year proclaimed himself president (see January 2011), is deprived of his parliamentary immunity. He risks being charged with treason.
Chinese loan should secure electricity supply
Gabon borrows $ 123 million from China to modernize and expand the electricity grid in the capital, Libreville. The outdated and insufficient electricity grid results in constant power cuts, which impede the entire country’s development.
Negotiations on islands resume
Gabon and Equatorial Guinea resume UN negotiations on which country has the supremacy of some islands in the oil-rich off-shore waters.
Obame proclaims himself president
Possibly inspired by the events in Ivory Coast and in North Africa (“Arab Spring”), Mba Obame proclaims Gabon’s rightful president. However, he receives no major support either from within Gabon or from the outside world and for one month takes refuge at the UN headquarters in Libreville. The government responds by banning his party, the UN.