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New Caledonia

Official Country Name: New Caledonia
Region: Oceania
Population: 201,816
Language(s): French, Melanesian-Polynesian
Literacy Rate: 91%

New Caledonia was a part of France from 1946 until the late 1990s, when the nation passed the Noumea Accord. This legislation stipulates that New Caledonia, a group of islands in the southern Pacific ocean, will gradually begin operating more independently between 2000 and 2010, at which time France will retain governmental authority only in areas of currency, defense, public order, justice, and foreign affairs. Despite this new status, New Caledonia's education system remains closely modeled after the French system, and the primary language of instruction at all levels is French.

Education is free and compulsory for children between the ages of 6 and 16. Primary education lasts for five years. Secondary education is broken up into two cycles, the first of which is a four-year program that begins at age 11. The additional three-year program, commonly known as upper secondary, is optional; however, successful completion of it is required of students wishing to pursue higher education. New Caledonia operates five institutions of higher education, including a branch of the Université française du Pacifique. Many students seeking university degrees attend universities in France. The New Caledonia Educational Authority for Primary, Secondary, and Higher Education, based in Noumea, is a decentralized government department that oversees the educational system in New Caledonia. Both public and parochial schools are accountable to this entity.


Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. New Caledonia. 12 December 2000. Available from http://www.dfat.gov.au/.

"New Caledonia." Europa World Yearbook. Pittsburgh: Europa Publications, 1998.

—AnnaMarie L. Sheldon

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