Central African Republic
History & Background
Upon gaining its independence from France on August 13, 1960, the former French colony known as Ubangi-Shari became the Central African Republic. The Central African Republic covers approximately 240,535 square miles (622,984 kilometers) and borders Cameroon, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic of the Congo, and Sudan in the central part of Africa. Its capital is Bangui. Although French is the official language of the Central African Republic, Arabic and Swahili are also spoken. Its national literacy rate is 60 percent.
The first formal schools began in the Central African Republic in about 1930. These schools were primarily extensions of the Catholic church, and the teachers were missionaries. After 1937, a government education system was established. Between the mid-1940s and 1960, the population grew at such a fast pace that both private and government schools were needed to meet the educational demands. In 1963 the government ordered the abolition of private schools; however, by 1975 another spurt in population growth made it necessary for private schools to resume their role in meeting the educational needs of the growing country.