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Official Country Name: Department of Martinique
Region: Puerto Rico & Lesser Antilles
Population: 414,516
Language(s): French, Creole patois
Literacy Rate: 93%

Except for brief periods, Martinique has been a French possession since 1635, and it became a department of France in 1946. In July 2000, the population was estimated at 414,516. Unemployment is high—27 percent in 1997. Consequently, many Martiniquais live in metropolitan France. GDP per capita was $10,700 in 1996. French is the official language, but Creole is widely spoken. In fact, the study of Creole is now available in the upper grades of some secondary schools, and an Institute for Creole Studies has been created at the university.

Martinique is an overseas department of France; therefore, 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 of September to the end of June. The language of instruction is French, although the proponents of créolité (creoleness) (who emphasize the existence of a distinctive Caribbean culture composed of elements of African, European, Amerindian and Asian cultures, and a racially inclusive Creole identity) have urged the increased use of Creole in the school system. Since 1999, programs have been in place to train school heads, resource personnel, and teachers in the pedagogy of the new technologies: computers and the modern world, multimedia, and networks, including the Internet.

At age two, students may enter preprimary education. Primary education begins at age six and lasts five years. In 1999-2000, there were 19,508 students enrolled in preprimary education, 34,292 in primary education, and 527 in special education, taught by 3,266 teachers.

Secondary education begins at age 11 and is divided into two cycles: the premier cycle (lower secondary), completed in the collège and lasts four years; the second cycle (upper secondary), completed in the lycée and lasts three years. The baccalauréat exam marks the end of the lycée education, and passing is required for admission to the university. In 1999-2000, there were 28,859 students in the collèges and 21,034 in the lycées, taught by 4,227 teachers.

The Université des Antilles et de la Guyane was founded in the 1880s as a School of Law, became the Centre Universitaire des Antilles-Guyane in 1970, and a university in 1982. The Martinique campus of the university has the Schools of Letters and Human Sciences and of Law and Economics. The Institut Universitaire de Formation des Maîtres (University Institute for Teacher Training), affiliated with the university, provides teacher training. Since January 1997, the school system is headed by the recteur of the newly created Académie de la Martinique (the Martinique Academy), responsible to the French Ministry of Education.

The education system has been very successful in reducing illiteracy to 2.6 percent in the year 2000; in fact, at 0.2 percent, it has been practically eliminated for those aged 15 to 24. Failure rates, however, although declining, remain too high in the collèges and the first year of the lycée. For 1999-2000, failure rates in the first, third, and fourth years of the collège and the first year of the lycée were 16.2 percent, 17.7 percent, 9.4 percent, and 20.3 percent, respectively. In the lycée, there is also a much greater demand for some programs than actual places available.


Académie de la Martinique, December 2000. Available from http://www.ac-martinique.fr.

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The World Fact-book 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. 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, 2536-2544. Tarrytown, NY: Elsevier Science Inc, 1994.

Mooney, Carolyn. "On Martinique, Elevating the Status of Creole." Chronicle of Higher Education no. 40, 9 June 2000.

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

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

—Gilles Labrie

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