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Official Country Name: Islamic Federal Republic of the Comoros
Region: Africa
Population: 578,400
Language(s): Arabic, French, Comoran
Literacy Rate: 57.3%

One of the poorest countries in the world, Comoros is an archipelago, or group of islands, in the western Indian Ocean. It is located between eastern Africa and the island of Madagascar. Under French ownership from 1843 until 1975, Comoros modeled its educational system after that of France. Education, which is free, is mandatory for children between the ages of 7 and 16.

Primary education lasts for five years. Primary school enrollment rates were roughly 75 percent in 1993. Secondary enrollment rates that year were 21 percent for males and 17 percent for females. Some postsecondary training is available on the islands, but students pursuing university degrees must go elsewhere. In the mid-1990s, there were 1,508 primary school teachers, 591 secondary school teachers, and 198 higher education instructors in Comoros. The overall student-teacher ratio is 52 to 1, and the primary language of instruction is French.

The percentage of illiterate adults over the age of 15 in the nation decreased slightly from 52.1 percent in 1980 to 42.7 percent in 1995. During that time period, the percentage of illiterate adult males decreased from 44 percent to 35.8 percent, and the percentage of illiterate adult females decreased from 60 percent to 49.6 percent.

The Ministry of National Education, Culture, Youth, and Sports oversees the educational system of Comoros. The government spent 21.6 percent of its budget on education in 1994. Increased violence towards teachers throughout the late 1990s and early in the twenty-first century became a concern for Education Minister Sultan Chouzour and the Comoran teachers' union.


Eastern Africa Sub-Regional Resource Facility. Health and Education. 26 May 2001. Available from http://www.easurf.org/.

NUPSA. Comoros and Congo. 26 May 2001. Available from http://www.nupsa.org.za/.

Panafrican News Agency. Teachers Protest Harassment. AllAfrical Global Media, 13 January 2001. Available from http://allafrica.com/.

United Nations Division for Social Policy and Development. Comoros. United Nations Youth Information Network, 26 May 2001. Available from http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unyin/.

—AnnaMarie L. Sheldon

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