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Cape Verde

Official Country Name: Republic of Cape Verde
Region: Africa
Population: 401,343
Language(s): Portuguese, Crioulo
Literacy Rate: 71.6%

The Republic of Cape Verde, an archipelago of 10 islands and 5 islets located 385 miles off the northwest coast of Africa, is in the unenviable position of having to import approximately 80 to 90 percent of its foodstuff and of being prone to droughts leading to famines. These factors and others, including high unemployment, impact the educational system.

The independent (1975) Republic of Cape Verde inherited 75 percent illiteracy from the Portuguese. The official language is Portuguese; however, it is not the language in common use. At the time of independence and regularly thereafter, it was proposed that students have lessons in Cape Verde Creole, a mixture of Portuguese and West African languages, which is the language most commonly spoken. The proposal has not yet been accepted because some officials feel that Cape Verde Creole is simply an offshoot or dialect of Portuguese and, therefore, not a valid language.

However, efforts in the late 1990s, including work at public schools in Boston and Brockton with a high proportion of Cape Verde immigrants, have led to a proposed alphabet for Cape Verde Creole that reflects actual pronunciation. This alphabet, ALUPEC, was introduced in Cape Verde for a provisional five-year trial. If the alphabet is successful and accepted, it will become the government-sanctioned standard for Cape Verde Creole, the first step in accepting Cape Verde Creole as the official language of government and, thus, instruction.

Since the majority of people do not actually speak and use Portuguese, literacy rates are difficult to assess. Literacy rates, defined as those over the age of 15 who can read and write (no standard specified), are reported by various agencies to be between 70 and 86 percent.

The Republic of Cape Verde has a Ministry of Education, Science, Youth and Sports. Like most sub-Saharan countries, it has difficulty in filling teaching positions though.

The school year runs from October to July. Schooling is free, universal, and compulsory for students aged 7 to 13; however, attendance is not enforced. Early schooling enrollment rates exceed 90 percent, but dropout rates are high and later schooling is not well attended.

School laws were revised in 1987. Prior to 1987, schooling consisted of the first six years of instrução primária (primary education) and a escola preparatória (middle school) of three years. After middle school, two tracks were possible: a three-year track leading to a Curso Complementar do Ensino Tecnico (Certificate of the Completion of General Technical Education) or a two year pre-university course leading to a Curso Complementar dos Liceus (Certificate of the Completion of a Lycee).

In 1987 the middle school was abolished and instrução primária (primary education) became a single six-year cycle. Secondary education became a single five-year stage with two cycles: a three-year general track followed by two-year pre-university preparation, successful completion of which leads to a Curso Complementar do Ensíno Secondario (Certificate of the Completion of Secondary Education).

Cape Verde has no university. Several teachertraining institutions and one industrial-commercial institution exist, but none of these institutions is considered postsecondary.

A law effective December 29, 1996, states that Cape Verde will provide equal access to educational success for special needs students. The law supports the integration of special education into regular classrooms in situations that support student learning.

Outside influences also impact Cape Verde education. For example, the World Bank and its arm, the International Development Association (IDA), were investing in educational and development programs (1999) to increase access to primary school, to improve classrooms, and to raise teacher and workforce skills to enable the workforce to respond to social and economic goals.


Almeida, Raymond. "Chronological References." Cabo Verde/Cape Verdean American, 14 March 1997. Available from http://www.umassd.edu/specialprograms/caboverde/cvchrono.html.

Cape Verde Embassy Fact Sheet, 1999. Available from http://capeverdeusembassy.org/factmain.html.

Caswell, Linda J., and Isabel Pina-Britt. "The Importance of Using Cape Verdean Creole in the Classroom." Cimboa: A Journal of Letters, Arts and Studies, 31 July 1998. Available from http://www.softlink.web.

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The World Fact-book 2000. Directorate of Intelligence, 1 January 2000. Available from http://www.cia.gov/.

"Country Profile: Cape Verde." ABC News, 1998. Available from http://www.abcnews.go.com/reference/contries/CV.html.

Friere, Paulo. Pedagogy in Process. New York: Seabury Press, 1978.

Janet Matthews Information Services. "Cape Verde Country Profile." Africa Review World of Information, May 1996.

"Legislation Pertaining to Special Needs Education." UNESCO, February 1996. ERIC No: ED407777.

Macedo, Donaldo. "The Politics of an Emancipatory Literacy in Cape Verde." In Rewriting Literary: Culture and the Discourse of the Other, eds. Candace Mitchell and Kathleen Weiler, 147-59. Critical Studies in Education and Culture Series. Ed. Henry A. Giroux and Paulo Freire. New York: Bergin and Garvey, 1991.

Miller, Yawu. "Alphabet Is a Start for Cape Verdean Creole." Bay State Banner, 31 December 1998. Available from http://www.softlinkweb.com.

Sevigny, Joseph A. Cape Verde: A Country Guide Series Report from the AACRAO-AID Project. American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, 1995. ERIC Document 388127.

"WB Approves $22.1 Million for the Republic of Cape Verde." The Cape Verdean News, 31 July 1999. Available from http://www.softlineweb.com.

—Emily Dial-Driver

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