Constitutional & Legal Foundations
Angola's 1975 Constitution, revised in 1976 and 1980, guarantees access to education for all. It prohibits discrimination based on color, race, ethnic identity, sex, place of birth, religion, level of education, and economic and social status. It also outlines social goals of combating illiteracy, developing education and a national culture, and respecting all religions while maintaining a clear separation of church and state. National defense requires mandatory military service of men and women over the age of eighteen, which has significant effects on enrollment in higher education.
By all accounts, literacy in Angola was only 10-15 percent at the time of independence. The government initiated a literacy drive in November 1976, giving priority to rural Africans who had been virtually ignored under colonial rule. The National Literacy Commission under the Minister of Education was created to administer the literacy campaign.
The civil war that ensued after independence destroyed much of the country's infrastructure, including the educational system. Most Portuguese instructors left the country, many buildings were destroyed or badly damaged, and instructional materials were scarce. The shortage of qualified teachers was especially pronounced: of the twenty-five thousand primary school teachers in Angola, only two thousand were considered even minimally qualified. At the secondary level, there were only six hundred teachers. To improve these conditions, the First Party Congress in 1977 resolved to institute an eight-year compulsory system of free, basic education for children between the ages of seven and fifteen. Other important educational goals in the early years of independence included, in order of importance, primary education, secondary education, and intermediate and university education.
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