Education in Burkina Faso

Education in Burkina Faso is structured in much the same way as in the rest of the world: primary, secondary, and higher education. As of 2008, despite efforts to improve education, the country had the lowest adult literacy rate in the world (25.3%).

Primary and secondary
The Education Act makes schooling compulsory from age 6 to 16. By law, education is free, but the government does not have adequate resources to provide universal free primary education. Children are required to pay for school supplies, and communities are frequently responsible for constructing primary school buildings and teachers' housing. Children from poor families can continue to receive tuition-free education through junior high and high school, if their grades qualify.

In 2002, the gross primary enrollment rate was 46 percent, and the net primary enrollment rate was 36 percent. Gross and net enrollment ratios are based on the number of students formally registered in primary school and therefore do not necessarily reflect actual school attendance. In 1998, 26.5 percent of children ages 6 to 14 years were attending school. As of 2001, 66 percent of children who started primary school were likely to reach grade 5.

School conditions are usually reasonable with very basic equipment. Legally the size limit for one class is 65 students, but in many rural areas classes are much bigger because of the lack of schools. If a school is full, children may get turned away and will have to try again the next year.

There is an International School of Ouagadougou open to foreign nationals and Burkinabè.

School session
A week runs from Monday to Saturday, with the schools closed on Thursday. Burkina Faso has a national curriculum. The subjects taught include Production, where children may learn to plant maize and trees or keep chickens, on school land. They have a break between noon and 3pm.

Higher education
Ouagadougou. The first private higher education school was established in 1992. Supervision rates are different from one school to another. At the University of Ouagadougou there is one teacher for every 24 students, while at The Polytechnic University of Bobo-Dioulasso they have one teacher for every three students.

In 2010/2011 the University of Ouagadougou had around 40,000 students (83% of the national population of university students), the University of Koudougou had 5,600 students, and the Polytechnic University of Bobo-Dioulasso had 2,600. The private universities each had less than 1,000 students.

The University Ouagadougou and Bobo-Dioulasso are composed of five levels of decision making: the board of directors, the university assembly, the university council, institutions, and departments.

Influencing factors
The number of actual schools (for primary)
A shortage of qualified instructors (for higher education)
Families have to pay for school supplies and school fees
Families have very low income
Sending a child (or children) to school limits the money being earned for the family
Many families are only able to send one child to school, leaving the others to earn money for the family. They usually send the oldest able male.
Language barrier. Education is mainly conducted in French, which only 15% of Burkinabè can speak, rather than in first languages of the country.