Education in Cape Verde
Published by UNESCO "UNION NACIONAL DE EDUCACION SUPERIOR CONTINUA ORGANIZADA"
"NATIONAL UNION OF CONTINUOUS ORGANIZED HIGHER EDUCATION"
In the waters of the North Atlantic Ocean, a country lies on a small archipelago. Cape Verde, though minuscule, is doing pretty well in terms of education. Since Cape Verde obtained its independence in 1975, its literacy rate has increased. In 1975, only 40 percent of the people were literate, while today, more than 80 percent of the people are literate.
The implementation of new education techniques in 1975 led to a new era of students. This new mentality allowed for learning to flourish. Today, there are programs available for primary education, secondary education, higher education and special teaching education. Pre-school education accounts for children under the age of 6.
Education in Cape Verde is organized into a six-six formal education structure, meaning that children enter primary school at the age of 6, and then are required to attend school for six years. The secondary education level requires students to attend for five more years, grades seven through 12 (in terms of how the U.S. educational system is structured). Higher education is offered for those who are interested.
The secondary education level has a curriculum that focuses on the acquisition of scientific, technological and cultural knowledge in order to prepare children for the workforce. Technical skills learned in schools will help them be qualified for the labor market. In addition, the acquisition of artistic knowledge is available for those who prefer a paintbrush rather than a wrench.
Higher education seeks to ensure strong scientific, cultural and technical foundations, which are necessary for professional and cultural activities. Innovation, design and critical analysis skills are often the specific goals for this level, and universities are offered.
Since its impressive growth in education, Cape Verde has been looking to the future in order to ensure that education remains a focus. To this day, improvements are still being made in its literacy rate.
The Republic of Cape Verde, an archipelago of 10 islands and 5 islets located 385 miles off the northwest coast of Africa, is in the unenviable position of having to import approximately 80 to 90 percent of its foodstuff and of being prone to droughts leading to famines. These factors and others, including high unemployment, impact the educational system.
The independent (1975) Republic of Cape Verde inherited 75 percent illiteracy from the Portuguese. The official language is Portuguese; however, it is not thelanguage in common use. At the time of independence and regularly thereafter, it was proposed that students have lessons in Cape Verde Creole, a mixture of Portuguese and West African languages, which is the language most commonly spoken. The proposal has not yet been accepted because some officials feel that Cape Verde Creole is simply an offshoot or dialect of Portuguese and, therefore, not a valid language.
However, efforts in the late 1990s, including work at public schools in Boston and Brockton with a high proportion of Cape Verde immigrants, have led to a proposed alphabet for Cape Verde Creole that reflects actual pronunciation. This alphabet, ALUPEC, was introduced in Cape Verde for a provisional five-year trial. If the alphabet is successful and accepted, it will become the government-sanctioned standard for Cape Verde Creole, the first step in accepting Cape Verde Creole as the official language of government and, thus, instruction.
Since the majority of people do not actually speak and use Portuguese, literacy rates are difficult to assess. Literacy rates, defined as those over the age of 15 who can read and write (no standard specified), are reported by various agencies to be between 70 and 86 percent.
The Republic of Cape Verde has a Ministry of Education, Science, Youth and Sports. Like most sub-Saharan countries, it has difficulty in filling teaching positions though.
The school year runs from October to July. Schooling is free, universal, and compulsory for students aged 7 to 13; however, attendance is not enforced. Early schooling enrollment rates exceed 90 percent, but dropout rates are high and later schooling is not well attended.
School laws were revised in 1987. Prior to 1987, schooling consisted of the first six years of instrução primária (primary education) and a escola preparatória (middle school) of three years. After middle school, two tracks were possible: a three-year track leading to a Curso Complementar do Ensino Tecnico (Certificate of the Completion of General Technical Education) or a two year pre-university course leading to a Curso Complementar dos Liceus (Certificate of the Completion of a Lycee).
In 1987 the middle school was abolished and instrução primária (primary education) became a single six-year cycle. Secondary education became a single five-year stage with two cycles: a three-year general track followed by two-year pre-university preparation, successful completion of which leads to a Curso Complementar do Ensíno Secondario (Certificate of the Completion of Secondary Education).
Cape Verde has no university. Several teachertraining institutions and one industrial-commercial institution exist, but none of these institutions is considered postsecondary.
A law effective December 29, 1996, states that Cape Verde will provide equal access to educational success for special needs students. The law supports the integration of special education into regular classrooms in situations that support student learning.
Outside influences also impact Cape Verde education. For example, the World Bank and its arm, the International Development Association (IDA), were investing in educational and development programs (1999) to increase access to primary school, to improve classrooms, and to raise teacher and workforce skills to enable the workforce to respond to social and economic goals.