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Official Country Name: Department of Guadeloupe
Region: Puerto Rico & Lesser Antilles
Population: 426,493
Language(s): French, Creole patois
Literacy Rate: 90%

Guadeloupe has been a French possession since 1635 and a department of France since 1946. In July 2000, the population was estimated at 426,493 people. The economy depends heavily on tourism but requires substantial aid from France. In 1998, the unemployment rate was 27.8 percent, and GDP per capita was estimated at $9,000 in 1996. Although French is the official language, the majority of the population speaks Creole, an important element in the cultural unity of Guadeloupe's society.

Because Guadeloupe is a department of France, the education system is the same as in France. Education is compulsory for 10 years from the ages of 6 to 16. The school year runs from the first week in September to the end of June. The school calendar includes the following holidays: one day at Mi-Carême (Mid-Lent) and at the Abolition de l'esclavage (the Abolition of Slavery Day) at the end of May, one week at La Toussaint (All Saints' Day) in early November and at Carnaval in late February, and two weeks at Noël (Christmas) and Pâques (Easter). French is the language of instruction.

Students may enter the école maternelle (preprimary school) at age two, and the école primaire (primary school) at age six. In 1998-99, there were 339 écoles maternelles et primaires with 63,609 students enrolled.

Secondary education begins at age 11 and lasts for 7 years; it is divided into a premier cycle (first cycle) completed in the collège and lasting four years, and a second cycle completed in the lycée and lasting three years. In the 1998-99 school year, there were 48 collèges enrolling 30,825 students and 31 lycées with 20,448 students.

The Guadeloupe campus of the Université des Antilles et de la Guyane has schools of exact and natural sciences, law and economics, sciences and techniques in physical and sporting activities, and medicine. Enrollment in 1998 was about 5,300 students with an academic staff of 130. The Institut Universitaire de Formation des Maîtres (University Institute for Teacher Training), affiliated with the university, has a center in Guadeloupe to provide teacher training. The licence (bachelor's degree) is required for admission. The program lasts two years, the first for further specialization in a discipline and the second for teacher training in that discipline. Continuing education and training is provided through the Centre National d'Enseignement à Distance (The National Center for Distance Education).

Starting in 1947, the school system was under the jurisdiction of the Recteur of the Académie de Bordeaux (the Bordeaux Academy). In 1974, an Académie des Antilles-Guyane was created for the departments of Guadeloupe, Martinique, and Guyana. Since January 1997, the school system is headed by the recteur of the newly created Académie de la Guadeloupe.

The new Académie de Guadeloupe implemented a three-year plan in 1999 with a focus on important issues for the schools of Guadeloupe. One of the goals is to reduce the failure and dropout rates, especially in the first year of the lycée, where those rates have been significant. Another objective is the mastery of French: the goal is to improve the effectiveness in the teaching of French and in teaching other subjects in French in Guadeloupe's multilingual society. A final goal encourages teachers to develop activities on the theme of citizenship to include promoting non-violence and the teaching of the skills of democracy: civility, listening to others, and constructing reasonable arguments in support of one's ideas.


Académie de la Guadeloupe, 15 December 2000. Available from http://www.ac-guadeloupe.fr.

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The World Factbook 2000. Directorate of Intelligence, 1 January 2000. Available from http://www.cia.gov.

Europa. The Europa World Yearbook 2000, Vol. 1. London: Europa Publications, 1999.

International Association of Universities. International Handbook of Universities, Fifteenth Ed. New York: Grove's Dictionaries Inc, 1998.

Michel, C., and G. Pigeon. "Guadeloupe and Martinique: System of Education." In The International Encyclopedia of Education, Vol. 6. Tarrytown, NY: Elsevier Science Inc., 1994.

UNESCO. Statistical Yearbook/Annuaire Statistique 1999. Lanham, MD: Bernan Press, 2000.

Université des Antilles et de la Guyane, 15 December 2000. Available from http://www.univ-ag.fr.

—Gilles Labrie

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