Constitutional & Legal Foundations
After the Spanish-American War, which ended in 1898, Spanish Guinea became Spain's only significant tropical colony. It was around this period that the economic development of Spanish Guinea began, although for the most part it was concentrated on the richer island of Fernando Po. The Spanish budget law of 1902 provided for the creation of undenominational schools. This project lasted until 1909 and was restarted in 1922. In 1914 the Escuela Externa (secondary school for day students only) was founded in Santa Isabel, and in 1927 a school was opened in Evinayong. Vocational schools were also begun in 1931, the first of which was in Santa Isabel (Liniger-Goumaz 2000).
Despite this progress in the field of education, it was only following the Spanish Civil War, from 1936 to 1939, that mainland Spanish Guinea began to receive broad educational consideration from Spain. In August of 1943 the Guinean school system was organized and provided for the following stages: elementary and preparatory education, primary education, lower secondary education, higher vocational education for schoolteachers and administrators, technical and agricultural education, and complementary schooling for male and female natives (Liniger-Goumaz 2000).
In 1959 the status of Spanish Guinea was changed when it was divided into two overseas provinces of Spain. Each province was placed under the control of a civil governor. Under this new system, all citizens, including the Africans, were granted the same rights as those exercised by citizens of Spain. The free elementary education established under Spanish rule was designed to teach the Spanish language and to guarantee patriotic and moral education (Liniger-Goumaz 2000). Even under this system, however, most children did not go beyond elementary school and most teachers were vastly under-qualified.
In 1963 the two provinces came to be known as Equatorial Guinea after a measure that agreed on economic and administrative autonomy was adopted by plebiscite (common vote). Then, on October 12, 1968, Equatorial Guinea gained independence from Spain, after ratifying a constitution on August 11, 1968. At the time of independence, 185 primary and elementary schools existed, with approximately 48,000 students (Liniger-Goumaz 2000).
The first president of Equatorial Guinea following independence was Francisco Macias Nguema. He was elected in 1971 and, following the election, was successful in passing through a constitution that named him president for life. His rule was marked by many arrests and executions, and during his rule the economy in Equatorial Guinea experienced rapid decline.
Macias maintained power until 1976, when he was overthrown by his nephew, Colonel Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo. In 1982, a new, more liberal constitution was approved. Presidential elections were held in early 1996 and President Obiang was re-elected to a seven-year term, winning over 97 percent of the vote. The president's party also won the legislative election held in March 1999, although most international observers agree that the elections were fraudulent.
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