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Central African Republic

Development Partner Consultation | Brussels 26 June 2007

Central African Republic Development Partner Consultation | Brussels 26 June 2007

Sector note 1


1. Current situation

The Government, supported by the World Bank and UNESCO (Dakar Pole), recently carried out a thorough analysis of the educational sector (RESEN). Principal findings are presented below. Following this analysis, the Government is working to develop a sector-based strategy within a credible macro-financial framework to guide the education sector from 2007-2020. The national strategy aims to make the accession of CAR to the EFA-Fast Track initiative possible.

For 15 years access to education in CAR has been limited by a low intake capacity. Enrolment indicators have not shown any significant improvement at any educational level during this period. In 2005 the School Enrolment Ratio (SER) was 4% for Pre-School, 75% for Basic-1 (B1) and 29% for Basic-2 (B2), Secondary General (SG) and Technical. Weakness in intake capacity is matched by a deterioration of the quality of services offered and a decline in resources allocated to the sector.

Budgetary priority of education spending has continued to fall. While education accounted for 28% of public, debt-free spending in 1996, it was estimated at only 14% in 2005. The combination of limited tax income and low budget priority means that only 1.45% of GDP is devoted to public spending on education, the lowest on the continent and far below the African average of 3.7%.

Funding for Basic-1 education has faced a particular decline. Whereas B1 spending accounted for 65% of all public education expenditure in 1980, it accounted for only 49% in 2005. The share granted to secondary education is also low (28%). In contrast, tertiary education receives 23% of current education spending (compared to an average of 18% in Africa).

Unit costs (average spending per pupil) are particularly low in primary and secondary education. They are estimated at 7% of GDP per capita for B1, 17% for B2 and 28% for SG. In contrast, the unit cost of tertiary education reached 225% of GDP per capita. Annual public spending for a student in higher education is equivalent to that of 31 pupils in Basic-1.

The number of civil servant teachers fails to meet demand due to budgetary constraints. The education system adapts by i) families recruiting unqualified teacher-relatives, who currently represent about half of all teachers in classrooms, and ii) reaching desperately low student-to-teacher ratios (an average of 92 pupils per teacher in primary education, and an average of over 50 in secondary). The lack of textbooks for teachers and pupils further compounds the challenges of a severely under-staffed teaching force. At present, in B1 there is one book per 10 pupils.

It is worth noting that the repetition rate remains high. In Basic-1, and Basic-2 and Secondary General 30% and 20%, respectively, of students repeat each grade each year. Lastly, the education system struggles to retain children from the beginning to the end of a teaching cycle: the completion rate for Basic-1 was estimated at only 32% in 2005.

The number of qualified people graduating from the education system fails to meet economy’s needs. The agricultural and informal sectors require literate people to increase productivity, which will in turn contribute to poverty reduction; at the same time, modern sectors – industry or technology – require

1 Translation of the “Fiche d’information - Education”

Sector note | Education

staff with increasingly high levels of formal education. At present, most young people (70%) enter their working life with minimal literacy skills. Meanwhile, the annual number of those leaving higher education is more than six times higher than the number of managerial jobs available.

Discrepancy between education-funding priorities and employment needs exacerbates unemployment and forces those with tertiary education to accept jobs below their skill level. Only 25% of those leaving higher education find a managerial job; the rest take up less qualified positions (50%) or are unemployed (25%). The extent of the imbalance is such that the discrepancy between what the education system “produces” in terms of employment is more structural than economic. Gender, area and standard of living are also serving as discriminating factors in terms of opportunities to attend school and allocations of funding for education.

The discrepancy between opportunities for schooling and completion of school for boys and girls differs starkly in Basic-1 where the School Enrolment Ratio (SER) for boys is 27% higher than girls. Girls also drop-out of school at a consistently higher rate; the completion rate for boys is 20% higher than for girls. In addition, the enrolment rate in rural areas is much lower than in urban areas at 50% and 107% respectively. The drop-out rate is also higher in rural areas. Lastly, the enrolment rate increases according to income level. The rate climbs from 32% for the 20% poorest households to 121% for the 20% least poor ones. These disparities are even more pronounced in tertiary education where 85% of students come from the 20% least poor households.

2. Challenges to be faced

Taking into consideration the social effects of education and the need to link the education of young people to economic growth, the education sector should respond to current challenges by:

Making primary education universal

Improving the quality of secondary and tertiary education

Developing literacy programmes

Introducing professional subjects in higher education

Developing short vocational training programmes

3. Strategic vision and priority actions

To maximize the economic and social impact of education, better-quality and universal basic education must be a national priority. For other teaching levels (secondary general and technical, higher education), the emphasis on quality and the relevance of what is being taught (more diverse, professional, improved internal efficiency) must be at the heart of future educational policies. Assessment and monitoring of the system’s “external” performance should allow the education system to adapt more effectively to the needs of the national economy.

The aim of the priority actions will be that from now to 2020, “all children of both sexes, wherever they live, should attain and complete a full, good quality Basic-1 education and they should have access to the other education cycles.” To address these concerns, special emphasis will be placed on quality:

To recruit trained Basic-1 teachers, to train new teachers, to provide them with kits, and to grant them a teaching budget to restore schools and reduce the student/teacher ratio.

To make textbooks and kits available to pupils in order to improve the quality of teaching and to reduce the number of pupils per book.

To create and strengthen short professional training programmes for pupils leaving the general educational system.

To rehabilitate and build classrooms and schools so that supply is able to meet demand.