Primary and Secondary Education

Education is compulsory through the age of 12 years. Primary school education has been free since 2000; however, families must pay for uniforms and book fees. Tuition and fees at the secondary school level remain unaffordable for many families.

In 2002, the gross primary enrollment rate was 108 percent. Gross enrollment ratios are based on the number of students formally registered in primary school and do not necessarily reflect actual school attendance. In 2001, 84.6 percent of children ages 10 to 14 years were attending school. As of 2001, 64 percent of children who started primary school were likely to reach grade 5.

Fewer girls enroll in primary school in Cameroon than boys. In 2001, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child identified a number of problems with the education system in Cameroon, including rural/urban and regional disparities in school attendance; limited access to formal and vocational education for children with disabilities; children falling behind in their primary education; a high dropout rate; lack of primary school teachers; and violence and sexual abuse against children in schools. Early marriage, unplanned pregnancy, domestic chores and socio-cultural biases also contribute to low education rates. Domestic workers are generally not permitted by their employers to attend school.

The adult literacy rate is 67.9%. In the southern areas of the country almost all children of primary-school age are enrolled in classes. However, in the north, which has always been the most isolated part of Cameroon, registration is low. Most students in Cameroon do not go beyond the primary grades. There has been an increasing trend of the smartest students leaving the country in recent years to study abroad and settling there: the so-called "brain drain".

Two separate systems of education were used in Cameroon after independence. East Cameroon's system was based on the French model, West Cameroon's on the British model. The two systems were merged by 1976. Christian mission schools have been an important part of the education system. The country has institutions for teacher training and technical education. At the top of the education structure is the University of Yaoundé. There is, however, a growing trend for the wealthiest and best-educated students to leave the country to study and live abroad, creating a brain drain.

passing the Government Common Entrance Examinations (and obtaining a First School Leaving Certificate) in Class 6 (now) or 7 (formerly). The last two years in secondary school, after GCE O Levels, are referred to as high school. A high school is part of the secondary school but in Cameroon, it is habitual to talk of secondary school for a school which ends at the O Levels and high school for one which offers the complete secondary education program of 7 years (or one which simply has lower and upper sixth classes).

The academic year in Cameroon runs from September to June, at which time, end-of-year-examinations are always written. The General Certificate of Education (GCE) both Ordinary and Advanced levels are the two most qualifying exams in the Anglophone part of Cameroon. Students who graduate from a five-year secondary school program have to sit for the General Certificate of Education Ordinary Level, and those who graduate from a two year high school program have to sit for the General Certificate of Education Advanced Level. So far, the GCE advanced level and the Baccalaureate (the French equivalent of academic attainment) are the two main entrance qualifications into Cameroon's institutions of higher learning.

Researchers from the PanAf Project Cameroon found that female students now use social internet networks more for pedagogical reasons than the traditional thought of searching for boyfriends. The most used social internet networks included Facebook, Myspace, Hi-5, Aidforum and Commentcamarche.