In the French-speaking parts of Cameroon in 2000, students generally attended secondary schools between the ages of twelve and nineteen. Four years were spent at the lower-secondary level and three at the upper-secondary level, with the Brevet d'Etudes du premier Cycle awarded to students graduating after the four grades of General Secondary school in the Francophone system (Collège d'Enseignement general or secondaire) and the Baccalauréat awarded to successful completers of the last three years of secondary level (Lycées). In English-speaking secondary schools in the year 2000, students also usually attended education programs between the ages of twelve and nineteen, although typically the lower-secondary level entailed five years of study for 12- to 17-year-olds, culminated in the Cameroon GCE O Level, and was followed by a two-year, upper-secondary program for 17- to 19-year-olds, awarded the GCE A Level upon completion of their studies.
In both the Anglophone and the Francophone systems, technical secondary schools also exist where students can obtain an alternative education to the general, academically oriented course of studies described above. The technical programs also are normally seven years in length for students between the ages of twelve and nineteen. In the Anglophone system, Technical Secondary Schools lead to the end degree of City and Guilds Part III, which allows the graduate to go on to university or higher-level technical studies. In the French-speaking system, Lycées techniques (technical high schools) take the student through technical-training courses and qualify her or him for work or further study upon completion; the Brevet de Technicien and the Baccalauréat are the diplomas awarded, qualifying students to pursue careers or to study further at a higher-education institution. A government-sponsored conference held in April 1999, the National Forum on Technical and Vocational Secondary Education in Cameroon, followed up on the National Forum on Education of May 1995 by developing new thinking in how to modify technical and vocational training to better prepare students to meet the labor market's needs.
Gross enrollment ratios at the secondary level in 1994 were 32 percent for boys and 22 percent for girls, or 27 percent for secondary students as a whole. The net enrollment rate for secondary students was 22 percent. The failure rate at the secondary level in 1994 also was 22 percent. Twenty-four percent of secondary-level students in Cameroon dropped out of school that year.
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