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Educational System—overview

Marxism-Leninism was declared the basis of Angola's new educational system by the ruling MPLA, but a respect for traditional African values was also retained. Four years of compulsory, free primary education began at age seven, and secondary education began at age eleven, lasting eight years. Missionary schools were nationalized and private or religious organizations were not allowed to conduct schools.

Considerable efforts were made by the government in the first five years of independence to improve the accessibility of education, especially for primary-school aged children. There were fewer than 500,000 students in Angola in 1974, but by 1980 at least 1.6 million children were studying. Enrollment of the relevant age group was up to 80 percent in 1980, but by 1984, it had fallen to 49 percent due to austerity measures and population increases. Government statistics from 1990 show 1,180,008 students enrolled at the primary level, but only 148,137 at the middle and secondary level, with no indication as to the percentage of relevant age group. President dos Santos stated that by January 2000 school equipment had been acquired to meet 42 percent of the country's needs, demonstrating that 1,040,000 children between the ages of six and fourteen were without a school. However, the Ministry of Justice estimates that only about 5 percent of children have had their births registered. Unregistered children do not legally exist and therefore cannot enroll in schools.

Since 1980, education funding has been low, and all areas of education are in dire need of facilities, materials, and teachers. In 1994, for example, 4.4 percent of public expenditure was allocated for education. Civil war has consumed most of the country's financial gains. Of the US$2 billion the government earned in oil and diamond revenues in 1996, US$1.5 billion was spent on arms and military equipment.

During the early 1990s, Angola began gradually moving to a free-market economy, pursuing a policy of liberalization and privatization in industrial economic sectors. The effects could be seen within the educational system as well. Sixteen years after independence, major changes were made in Angola's educational system with Law N.18 that institutionalized private teaching in 1991. In 2001, the Ministry of Education announced that it would require a "symbolic payment" for public education,changing the free education policy that had been in effect since independence.

Basic adult literacy continues to be extremely low, but there are conflicting figures from government and other sources. No reliable census has been taken since 1970 which makes it difficult to assess not only literacy but also other educational needs. Statistics available in 2001 from UNICEF estimate the total population of Angola to be 12.5 million and adult literacy to be 56 percent for males and 29 percent for women. It is unlikely that these figures include population in UNITA-claimed territory. During the mid-1980s, Savimbi established a state-within-a-state with its own educational system that closely resembled that of Portugal. UNITA territory was much smaller but still in existence in 2001.

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Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.comGlobal Education ReferenceAngola - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education