Niger Schools

Figure 1.-- The photo was taken about 1950 in a primary school of Tahoua, a market town in southwestern Niger. France after World War II began making refiorms in its African colonies, including more attentuion to education. A pupil in the second row , near the windows, is French. His mate sitting at the same desk has clearly European origins, but probably also has African parent or grandparent. He has two status symbols of his white condition: he is wearing sandals and he owns a pith helmet. Based on the way the other children are dressed, they are the children of the Fraophone elite of southwest Niger.

The Niger educational system like other French colonies is largely based on the French system. As far as we know there were no secular schools in Niger until the arrival of the French in the late-19th century. Education was largely limited to the Islamuic madrasas attached to mosques. The first schools in French African countries were generally founded by Christian missionaries. We do not yet have details on Niger. Misionary activity was generally more limited in largely Muslim areas which includes most of Niger. With the French came schools, at leat in the cities. We know very little about the Fremnch colonial school system. We note school operating in the cities during the 1950s with a few French children mixed in with the Niger African children. France granted independence (1960). Niger is a very poor country and very limited resources were available for education. State spending on education is below 3 percent. The litracy rate was extrordinarily high and still is, about 85 percent (2000). The illiteracy rate among women is especially high. Many Muslim families were reluctant to send their children to culturally French schools, especially their girls. School is compulsory for children aged 715 years. This law is widely ignored. This is partly a function of poverty, but many parents refuse to send girls to school. A now dated report indicated that the country had 3,200 primary schools with 11,500 teachers and 482,100 pupils (1997-98). This meant that there were many small schools. The pupil-teacher ratio at the primary level was a very high 41 to 1 (1999). Only about 20 percent of primary-school-age children were enrolled in school, most of whom were boys. A mere 6 percent of the older children attended secondary school. There were nearly 97,000 pupils in secondary schools, taught by some 3,600 teachers (1997). Almost all were in general secondary with a small number in teacher training and vocational programs. The program is 6 years of primary school and 7 years of secindary school. Niger has asmall university system. The National School of Administration was founded in Niamey (1963). The University of Niamey was founded (1973). It has schools of the sciences, letters, education, mathematics, agriculture, health, economics, and social sciences. The Organization of the Islamic Conference helped found the Islamic University of West Africa at Say (1987).


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Created: 2:53 PM 3/14/2013
Last updated: 2:53 PM 3/14/2013