Côte d'Ivoire enjoys an educational system the quality of which is unparalleled in other sub-Saharan nations. This success, however, has been achieved primarily at the tertiary level, with universities and research centers that have become a benchmark of quality for other developing African nations. Though substantial progress has been made at the primary and secondary levels, especially in the area of teacher training, problems and weaknesses remain. After 1960, Côte d'Ivoire inherited an educational system that was a carbon copy of the French national model. President Houphouet-Boigny retained a pedagogical philosophy that many Ivoirian educators consider excessively elitist and out of touch with the country's needs. An illustration of the educational system of Côte d'Ivoire is a pyramid in which the base represents 85 percent of the eligible population, while the top consists of a 1.3 percent minority that alone shapes the destiny of the country. Thus while Côte d'Ivoire is one of the richest and most stable countries of West Africa, it still has an illiteracy rate of 58 percent.
Secondary education in Côte d'Ivoire has set an impressive example in enrollment growth, developing from 12,000 students in 1960, 70,000 in 1970, 238,000 in 1980, to nearly 566,000 in 2000. Nonetheless its rewards remain limited to a privileged few: after nine years of schooling, only 26.2 percent of qualified candidates pass the national proficiency examination (BEPC) at the end of junior high school. Ivoirian educators are well aware of this disproportion. The Educational Reform Law of 1995 has laid down the theoretical principles that will allow a larger segment of the population to gain access to higher levels of academic opportunities. The government also faces a dilemma if it attempts to rectify the apportionment of its educational resources: selectivity is viewed as a necessary evil, since the Ivoirian economy cannot absorb a larger number of qualified personnel, and the nation's universities are already being used to maximum capacity. The primary and secondary educational systems need to be reshaped from their rather obsolete French model and adapted to the future needs of Côte d'Ivoire.
Annuaire Statistique de l'Enseignement Pré-Scolaire, Primaire et Secondaire. 2 vols. Abidjan: Ministère de l'Education Nationale, 1999.
Bretherick, Dona. Côte d'Ivoire. Washington, DC: American Association of Collegiate Registrars, 1995.
Kompass: Côte d'Ivoire. Abidjan: Kompass Côte d'Ivoire, S.A., 1999.
Kouadio, Aska. Enseignement Technique et Professionnel en Côte d'Ivoire: Evolution et Eléments pour une Pé dagogie Rénovée. Villeneuve d'Ascq: Presses Universitaires du Septentrion, 1998.
Ogbu, S.M."On Public Expenditures and Delivery of Ed ucation in sub-Saharan Africa." Comparative Educa tional Review 36 (1991): 295-318.
—Eric H. du Plessis
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