Guinea set a precedent when it became the only former French colony of West Africa to sever ties completely with its past colonial framework. Everything it did, from its economy to its revolutionary educational system, was closely watched as a new African experiment in the making. The French educational system, which had been in place for more than 100 years was dismantled. Western teachers in the primary and secondary schools (including most Catholic missionaries) and French faculty members in higher education were summarily dismissed. French as an official language of instruction was replaced by native dialects, and the new curriculum reflected the president's predilection for socialist educational philosophy. Only the Koranic schools in this mostly Muslim nation were exempted from this radical restructuring of curriculum and objectives. New pedagogical directives were handed down directly by government officials, such as the 1959 decree (number 49) from the Ministère de l'Education Nationale (National Ministry for Education) that spelled out the new ethnocentric policy of radical africanization.
Ultimately, the results proved to be a disaster, and, 20 years later, Guinea lagged behind every other franco-phone African state that had retained the French pedagogical model. By 1985, a national educational conference held in Conakry, the capital, made public these findings:
- The use of vernacular languages in Guinean education was a failure, mostly because of the lack of standardized syntax and appropriate textbooks.
- The majority of teachers in the primary and secondary schools were poorly trained or unqualified.
- Budgetary restrictions compelled secondary schools to remain open without proper sanitation, equipment, or educational materials.
- Educational planning was ineffective, and the current administration was often unqualified.
Guinea gradually restored its economic and political ties with France in the late 1970s. After Sékou-Touré's death in 1984, most of his socialist educational philosophy and plans for africanization of the curriculum were abruptly abandoned. Though his successor, General Conté, still rules by decree, decisions affecting educational reforms are delegated to qualified professionals. Conté's government has launched two major educational reforms:
Le Plan d'Action Intermédiaire (Intermediate Plan) of 1984 stipulated the following directives:
- A national program of teacher training and in-service training would be immediately implemented.
- Major government funding would be allocated to build new schools and to provide much-needed equipment.
- French was restored as the official language of instruction at all educational levels.
The National Educational Policy Document of 1989 assessed the progress made during the intermediary period between 1984 and 1989 and recommended the implementation of the following steps to meet Guinea's needs: budgetary allocations for education must be increased to represent at least 20 percent of the national budget and, in order to combat illiteracy more effectively, the admission rate for the first year in primary school must be brought up to represent at least 50 percent of the eligible population. Also, by the year 2000, the national education budget was supposed to designate at least 40 percent of its resources for primary education, according to the Policy Document. These reforms were adapted and incorporated in the PASE, or Programme d'Ajustement Sectoriel de l'Education (National Education Adjustment Program), which became the reference policy document for the educational reform of Guinea through the year 2000.
Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.comGlobal Education ReferenceGuinea - History Background, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education, Higher Education - CONSTITUTIONAL LEGAL FOUNDATIONS, NONFORMAL EDUCATION