The twenty seven year old civil war in Angola saw 80% of the country's schools damaged or destroyed along with entire villages flattened however today, nearly two decades after the war ended, the Angolan government is rebuilding the education sector with help from organisations such as UNICEF and an NGO called People in Need. The government is striving to eliminate illiteracy by 2014 or bring it down to negligible levels. Despite such an ambitious challenge, according to 2015 estimates, the literacy rate in Angola remains just 71.1% (82% male and 60.7% female) however even that is a mark of progress from 2001 when the rate was just 42%. This gender discrepancy reflects a cultural norm in Angola that "boys study, girls cook", although in education at least this mentality is slowly developing towards gender equality. Whilst this 2015 figure is comparable to the nearby DRC (77.04%) it fares badly when compared to neighbours Zambia at 86.7 %, and Namibia at 91.53%.
Currently most schools suffer from a shortage of books and paper and many of the schools that do exist are in a poor condition without enough tables and chairs to go round forcing many children to sit on the floor. This is because although teachers are funded by the state, that funding doesn't cover books and furniture. As such, its not uncommon to see children in rural communities carrying their own chair to school on their head. Other schools don't have windows or roofs, so, when it rains, the children are sent home. In some schools like the one pictured below right, classes are run in outdoor school yards. As one teacher commented, "We lack everything from school books to desks, water and sanitation facilities, computers, libraries, and other basic learning materials. The other big problem is overcrowding."
Education in Angola consists of eight years of primary education (Ensino de Base) starting at 6yrs old with class sizes of around 42 children, then three years of secondary education (Ensino Medio) which is a three-year general course or a four-year technical/vocational course culminating in the Habilitacos Literarias followed by tertiary education, although this has only a 0.7% take-up. For many primary education is divided into two periods ending the eight years of compulsory education. One of Angola's Millennium Development goals set for 2015 was to ensure that, by then, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, would be able to complete a full course of primary schooling and today, although thet goal hasn't be even closley reached, more children than ever before are enrolled in primary school with the number of girls attending the same as for boys.
Angola currently spends 3.4213% of GDP on education, whilst Zambia spends 4.6181% and Nambia 8% (the UK spends 6.3%). This is despite the fact that Angola is Africa's biggest oil producer after Nigeria and the country is technically well off. Part of the problem is the nature of the country's government which tolerates little dissent so those who criticise the government in a bid to drive up standards can face arrest and jail. Without a better educated population at a higher level this situation is unlikely to change in the near future.
To add to the difficulties, many children who now attend school have emotional and behavioural difficulties having been traumatized as child soldiers or witnessed severe brutality with parents being killed during the war. Many of the children are also disabled from the war, some victims of landmines. As ever enrolment rates become poorer the more rural the area and as with many other African countries education is seen as less of a priority for girls with higher drop out rates and poorer attendance sometimes as low as 40%. The short video (below) gives an insight into classroom education in Angola.
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