The level of education is low in Mauritania where around half the population lacks literacy. Large investments over the past decades have increased the proportion of children attending school, but many still fail or leave only a few years.
Formal school compulsory schooling for six years, from the age of six, was introduced in 1991. About three out of four children now go to the first stage, slightly more girls than boys. Before that, part of a two-year preschool where children receive some writing and reading training and learn verses from the Qur’an.
- COUNTRYAAH: Country facts of Mauritania, including geography profile, population statistics, and business data.
More than half of the children attend part of the four-year high school and the three-year high school. It is common for the children to fail for a few years or so and then come back to school. In the higher stages, the proportion of boys is slightly higher than girls.
The teaching takes place in Arabic and French and is of low quality, partly because of the lack of educated teachers. The school should be free, but the cost of materials makes it difficult for poor families, especially in the countryside, to let the children participate.
There is a university in Nouakchott, founded in 1981, as well as some colleges.
In addition to the state school system, there are Quranic schools, where many Mauritanian people acquire basic knowledge of Islam and Arabic.
- Andyeducation: Introduction to education system in Mauritania, including compulsory schooling and higher education.
FACTS – EDUCATION
Proportion of children starting primary school
75.7 percent (2017)
Number of pupils per teacher in primary school
Reading and writing skills
45.5 percent (2007)
Public expenditure on education as a percentage of GDP
9.3 percent (2016)
Public expenditure on education as a percentage of the state budget
9.3 percent (2016)
The President cancels a new term of office
20th of November
Abdelaziz states that it is not necessary to change the constitution so that the president can be elected more than twice. Supporters of the president have spoken of such a change during a multi-week “national dialogue” with the opposition. The possibility that Abdelaziz would stand for a third term in the 2019 election has sparked strong protests, but now the president says it is not relevant. Several other African countries have made such constitutional changes in recent times, and this has in many cases resulted in outbreaks of violence. Abdelaziz, however, maintains his proposal to abolish the Senate.
Ten anti-slavery activists are released
A higher court changes the judgments against the 13 activists convicted in August. Three are now fully freed while seven are sentenced to shorter prison sentences that they are already deemed to have served. Only three remain in prison. Prosecutors had pleaded for stricter penalties of 20 in prison.
Anti-slavery activists get imprisoned
Thirteen members of the IRA anti-slavery organization are sentenced to between 3 and 15 years in prison for “use of force”. The IRA members were arrested following the unrest in Nouakchott at the end of June and have been charged with violence and rioting, and for belonging to a non-registered organization. During the trial, everyone testified that they had been tortured in prison. The judges are condemned by the USA, among others. Earlier, Amnesty International and 15 other human rights groups have demanded that activists be released.
Worried about forced eviction
Riot breaks out when the authorities evict residents of a slum in Nouakchott, to prepare the way for private construction. A dozen police officers are injured and a number of anti-slavery activists are arrested. The inhabitants of the slum area are largely haratins (see Population and languages).
Anti-slavery activists are released
Biram Ould Dah Ould Abeid and Brahim Ould Bilal are allowed to leave prison after the Supreme Court downgraded the crime and ordered their release. HD felt that they could only be sentenced for not having been dispersed when called upon by the police. This gives a maximum of one year in prison, which they have already served (see January 2015). Hundreds of activists met the two activists when they were released.
Protests against proposed constitutional changes
Several thousands of protesters gather in Nouakchott to protest a proposal by President Abdelaziz to abolish the House of Parliament, the Senate. The president, who instead wants to set up regional councils, has announced that a referendum will be held on the issue. The protesters are also protesting against proposals to change the constitution so that Abdelaziz could stand for re-election in 2019, which some government representatives have advocated. The protest is organized by the opposition alliance FNDU. When Abdelaziz formally took office in his second term in 2014, he promised not to support any proposals for constitutional amendments regarding the presidential re-election.
The UN chief visits
4th of March
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon visits Nouakchott during a tour of the region. He expresses particular concern about the increasing incidence of terrorist attacks in the Sahel region.