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Guinea-Bissau Education Facts


The children start the seven-year primary school at the age of six. After a military coup in 2012 (see Modern History), many schools were closed for almost a full year. Even then, many schools were closed due to lack of money and an acute and protracted political crisis (see Current policy). The crisis has also hit higher education.

According to the World Bank, 2009/2010 saw about 70 per cent of the children attending compulsory school, which was a clear increase compared to a few years earlier. 50-60 percent of pupils who start primary school complete their studies. Not even a fourth student goes on to the five-year higher level. More girls than boys leave school early, because they get married, get pregnant or because the family lacks money.

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

Language of instruction is Portuguese and crioulo. Textbooks are often missing and there is a great lack of teachers. The classes are large, with an average of 50 students per class. Many of the teachers themselves have only primary education. Periodically, the teaching is down as teachers strike in protest that they have not received their salaries. It is also common for children to leave school for part of the year because they are needed as agricultural laborers. This has led to large groups of children leaving school without being able to read, write or count properly.

Formally, the school is free of charge during the first four years, but there are a number of informal fees, including for registering students. In some places, parents are expected to contribute to teachers’ salaries.

Many Muslims now send their children to Koran schools in both Guinea-Bissau and Senegal. It appears that the teachers send out the children to beg on the streets instead of teaching them.

At independence in 1974, only a few percent of Guineans were literate. Up to 2012, the proportion of adults who could read and write had increased to over 50 per cent, but since then the proportion of literate and literate students has decreased again. Many of those who can read and write use crioulu or French.

In 1974, there were only 14 academics in the entire country. Since then, a well-educated elite has emerged, many of whom have received their university education in Cuba, France or Senegal in particular. In 2003, the Amilcar Cabral University in Bissau was founded, which would, among other things, teach law, medicine, agronomy and journalism. The same year a private university was opened in the capital. There is also a private college in Boé. Two Portuguese universities have branches in Guinea-Bissau.

One problem is that many of those who have education choose to work abroad, especially in Portugal, Cape Verde and Senegal where wages are higher and working conditions better.

  • Topmbadirectory: Offers information about politics, geography, and known people in Guinea-Bissau.


Proportion of children starting primary school

70.9 percent (2010)

Number of pupils per teacher in primary school

52 (2010)

Reading and writing skills

45.6 percent (2014)

Public expenditure on education as a percentage of GDP

16.2 percent (2013)

Public expenditure on education as a percentage of the state budget

16.2 percent (2013)



Million amount for reform of the army

Ecowas pledges $ 63 million in support to Guinea-Bissau to reform the army.


N’Tchama is accused of being behind attacks

At the end of the month, Captain Pansau N’Tchama is arrested and accused of being behind the attack on the military base. He had recently returned from Portugal where he had received military training.

Ordered murder on Vieira

Just a few days later, the transitional government requests Portugal to extradite Carlos Gomes Júnior, who is accused of inter alia ordering the assassination of President Vieira in 2009 (see Modern History). Gomes Júnior rejects the allegations.

Failed coup attempt

Later, the transitional government describes the event as a failed coup attempt that Portugal claims was behind, something the Lisbon government denies.

People are arrested after firing

At least seven people have been killed since gunfire erupted around a military base. Several people are also arrested. The military claims to have rebelled an attack by rebels. According to media, some of the rebels belong to the diola group. It is speculated whether the attack was directed at Antonio Indjai, whose residence is near the facility.


Leaders flee to Gambia

Former Army chief Indata, former Interior Minister Fernando Gomes and former Election Commission chief Desejado Lima Dacosta flee to Gambia where they are arrested.

Troops are taken home

At the end of the month, Angola announces that its troops will be taken home in early June.

Transitional government is not recognized by the EU

The EU makes a mark by not recognizing the new transitional government, citing suspicions that the military is still behind the scenes. The EU is also tightening its sanctions against the country by introducing, for example, an entry ban to the EU countries for an additional nine people.

Civil Government Requirements

On May 18, the UN, which adheres to the demand for an immediate return to civilian rule, bans travel for five of the coup leaders, including Antonio Indjai. Their financial assets are also frozen.

Soldiers occupy Bissau

In the middle of the month, 70 Burmese soldiers arrive in Bissau, and later a larger group of Nigerian soldiers also arrive. Senegal and Togo will also contribute with troops. Manuel Serifo Nhamadjo, who came third in the presidential election with 16 percent of the vote, now agrees to become president for one year and appoints Rui Duarte de Barros to lead the transition board.

Agreements are approved by all parties except PAIGC

Later, the junta gives in and promises a return to civilian rule within twelve months and agrees that a West African force of 600 men should be sent to the country. The agreement is approved by all parties except PAIGC. Carlos Gomes Júnior, now in exile in Portugal. claims that he is still the country’s legitimate head of government.

Call for Parliament’s extended mandate

At the Ecowa’s summit in Dakar in Senegal on May 3, the tone was softened against the coup makers in Guinea-Bissau and Mali. The West African leaders call on the Guinean junta to extend Parliament’s term of office for one year, appoint Parliament’s new President as interim president , try to win as broad support as possible for a new prime minister, and elections should be held within one year. An Ecowas force, ECOMIB, will also be sent to the country to monitor the Angolan force leaving the country. Ecowa’s proposal is rejected by senior PAIGC representatives.

The EU freezes assets for junta leaders

The EU imposes sanctions on the six junta leaders, among other things, their assets are frozen and they are prohibited from entering the EU countries.


Release of Gomes and Pereira

At the end of the month, Gomes and Pereira are released and leave the country for the Ivory Coast.

Support and assets are stopped

Guinea-Bissau is temporarily suspended from the AU and the World Bank and the African Development Bank are suspending their support for the country. On April 26, Ecowa announced plans to send 600 soldiers to Guinea-Bissau to “protect institutions and political leaders.” The organization puts the ultimatum to the junta; if it does not agree to receive the force within 72 hours, sanctions are imposed on the country. Juntan rejects the proposal, saying that all foreign soldiers sent to the country will be considered part of an occupation force. Ecowas decides to impose sanctions on the country, both economic and diplomatic (what they mean in detail is not yet published). A summit with Ecowa’s leaders is scheduled for the first weekend of May.

Manuel Serifo Nhamadjo refuses to accept post

In retrospect, it appears that several politicians who initially cooperated with the junta have become doubtful. On April 16, Yalá condemns the coup and later several other presidential candidates do the same. Juntan appoints Manuel Serifo Nhamadjo of PAIGC as new interim president on April 20 , but he refuses to accept the post.

Protest against coup

A national “transitional council” is formed by the junta and a number of opposition parties, including Yalás PRS (Yalá has close ties to the military and has been accused of being involved in previous coup attempts). In the days following the coup, around 300 people gather in Bissau to protest against the coup and demand a reinstatement of civilian rule. After a period of unclear information, it appears that the junta has captured Gomes and Pereira.

Military takes power in coup

Angola announces that it will withdraw its military force of 200 men (see also Foreign Policy and Defense). On April 12, however, the military takes power in a coup. The military claims to have captured the army chief Indjai. The coup is condemned by the UN Security Council, the African Union (AU), the regional cooperation organization Ecowas, the EU, the US and Portugal.



Late on election night, Samba Djaló, former head of the military intelligence service, is shot to death by a group of men dressed in uniform. However, it is unclear if it has anything to do with the choice. Djaló had been identified in connection with the assassination of Na Wai in 2009 (see Modern History) and belonged to the group of soldiers arrested in April 2010, who were then released after eight months in custody. Former Army commander Induta is now seeking protection at the EU office in Bissau.

New presidential election March 18

Presidential elections are announced until March 18, 2012. Gomes resigns as prime minister in order to stand as a candidate for PAIGC. He receives 49 percent of the vote. This requires a second round of elections between him and the second of the elections, PRS leader Kumba Yalá. However, he claims that cheating has occurred and refuses to participate, but his accusations are later rejected by the Election Commission.


President dies

On January 9, President Malam Bacai Sanhá dies at a hospital in Paris. He is being replaced by National Assembly leader Raimundo Pereira until further notice.

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