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Niger: Niger Education Profile


The educational challenge

Having adequate human resources, experts, qualified civil servants, contractors and engineers will be the great challenge for Niger in the short and medium term.

Illiteracy levels touch 80%2525 of the population and strong disparities exist in literacy rates: levels are three times higher amongst men than amongst women. Over 50%2525 of the population is taught reading and writing skills in urban areas versus only 14%2525 in rural areas. Moreover, French, the country’s official language, is only spoken by a minority (between 15 and 20%2525 of the population), which reflects the low schooling levels.

Thanks to the efforts that have been developed by the authorities through setting up the ten-year Education Development Programme (PDDE), the Education Project 1 FAD, the use of resources generated by the PPTE initiative and the President of the Republic’s Special Programme, one can notice an improvement in schooling rates.

The objective that Niger fixed itself is to raise the schooling rate so that it reaches 84%2525 in 2015, in conformity with the millennium objectives.
One can also notice a multiplication of schools that follow the Koran across the country, whose financing would come in major part from Persian Gulf countries (Saudi Arabia in particular.)
Creating a stable and clean school environment was the first challenge that was taken up by the authorities of the 5th Republic when they came into power. Indeed, they inherited a situation which came very close to a dead end as far as education is concerned. During almost one decade (1990-2000) Nigerien schools evolved in a climate of instability with permanent problems in the background, a series of wasted years, a reduced number of academic years and catastrophic school results.

To rectify the situation quickly, it was not only necessary to mobilise enormous financial means in favour of schools, but also to engage in significant and courageous reforms in all areas. This therefore led towards the reorganisation of the education ministries. This was the case for the Base I and reading and writing Ministry which, in July 2003, announced a significant reorganisation of its departments in order to better fulfil the requirements relating to setting up the ten-year Development of Education Programme (PDDDE).

The new organisation particularly aims at conforming the means of action to the ministry’s ambitions compared to the objective of restarting schooling in Niger. The efforts made by the government are witness to its will to rehabilitate education by creating the conditions of a durable and mutual confidence between educational partners. After more than four years of action in favour of schooling, the results are rather comforting: the number of schools increased considerably, thus contributing to improving school coverage across the country, the number of pupils enrolled progressed while passing from a rough rate of 32%2525 of schooling in 1999 to 41.7 %2525 in 2002. Better still, today the school years proceed regularly and without any clashes.

As far as higher education is concerned, there has been a slight improvement in study conditions. This renewal of credit that the universities are enjoying is the fruit of the sacrifices that have been made by the directors, students and all of the school partners. In a savage will to bring schooling establishments up to date, the Abdou Moumouni University in particular, the State increased its involvement by going from a budget of 1.5 billion CFA Francs in 2000 to 2 billion CFA Francs in 2002. This effort is supported by measurements going towards the increased reception facilities of faculties with more than 600 million CFA Francs invested in the construction of two lecture theatres and other classrooms, but also through the recruitment of managerial staff by hiring research teaching staff.

With that are added a series of reforms that have been undertaken to clean up the university environment as well as secondary education establishments. From amongst other reforms, there is the reorganisation of the University of Niamey, letting out the National Centre of the University Works (CNOU), the transformation of faculties into training and research units (UFR), the adoption of a document bearing organisation and operation of the statute of professional and private higher education and a reform of the Baccalaureate with the aim of promoting competitiveness.

Today the results of the authorities’ commitment in favour of schooling in Niger have borne their first fruits: stability is settling in, credibility is returning, the pupils come back to class with more reassurance and at the Abdou Moumouni University, the hour of modernisation has arrived with a connection to the network of the African Virtual University (UVA).