Benin is a country in West Africa. It borders Togo to the west, Nigeria to the east and Burkina Faso and Niger to the north. Its small southern coastline on the Bight of Benin is where a majority of the population is located. The capital of Benin is Porto-Novo, but the seat of government is located in the country's largest city, Cotonou. Benin covers an area of approximately 110,000 square kilometers (42,000 sq mi), with a population of approximately 9million. Benin is a tropical, sub-Saharan nation, highly dependent on agriculture, with substantial employment and income arising from subsistence farming.
The Republic of Benin operates on a 6-4-3-3-4 system:
- Primary school: 6 years
- Junior high school: 4 years
- Senior high school: 3 Years
- Bachelor's degree: 3 years
- Master's degree: 4 Years
French is the official language and is also the language of instruction. English is generally taught starting junior high school.
Benin recognized the importance of education and consider it as a national priority for economic development and poverty reduction (according to USAID in Benin, the percentage of national budget spent on education is 23%). Students benefit from free access to preschools and primary schools, which led to a significant increase in enrollment and attendance rates in the past decades, although rates are still low in many regions of Benin.
The increased enrollment and attendance rates in primary schools were not followed by an increase in terms of infrastructure and teaching capacity, leading to a degradation of the education quality and weak academic performances. Also, little has been done to cope and deal with the higher number of students reaching the age of accessing secondary education, leading to the similar issues of lack of teaching resources and degradation of quality.
Furthermore, secondary education represents a significant financial burden for the families, often leading to the exclusion of most vulnerable students. The majority of children outside of the school system are vulnerable children, girls representing the majority of them. In 2008 the estimated youth (15-24 years) literacy rate was 64% for males and 42% for females (UNICEF).
- Population: 9.2 million (UN, 2010)
- Capital: Porto-Novo
- Area: 112,622 sq km (43,484 sq miles)
- Major languages: French (official) Fon, Goun, Bariba, Yoruba, Dendi
- Life expectancy: 62 years (men), 65 years (women) (UN)
- Monetary unit: 1 CFA (Communaute Financiere Africaine) franc = 100 centimes
- Main exports: Cotton, palm oil