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Education on the island of Madagascar was limited to the area around its long-time capital of Antananarivo, and attended only by the noble classes until the late 1800s and 1900s.

Arab seafarers set up a few primary schools on the island in Medieval times, even developing a transcription of the Malagasy language using Arabic script. These schools did not continue long, however.

In the 1800s, during the rule of the Kingdom of Madagascar, a highly-developed primary school system was put in place, although restricted to the children of the nobility, within the central highlands area of the capital city. Among other segments of Madagascar society, education was information an intended largely to teach life skills and to teach children their place in society.

Under French colonial rule, the educational system began to reach into the rural communities, where children were taught basic skills and the French language. The better students were offered a secondary education, so that they could serve in various civil servant roles.

Throughout the first administrations following independence in 1960, the French language continued to be used in education, but the fourth administration was more socialist in nature, the use of French was discarded, and the Malagasy language became the language of education. The end of the Soviet Union in 1991 brought about a new fervor for democracy in Madagascar, and the next administration sought foreign aid for its education sector and adopted several reforms suggested by the United Nations and other countries offering aid.

During the early 2000s, the quality of education in Madagascar improved considerably, and became more accessible to children in the rural areas of the islands. The government budgeted for improvements in existing schools, the construction of new schools, and for teacher training, an effort that was assisted by funds from international organizations such as UNESCO and the World Bank, as well as through aid from the United States, France, and Japan.

This effort was halted during a political crisis in 2009, in which the president was ousted and exiled to South Africa. Declaring the actions of the coup leaders unconstitutional, the international community halted its financial support and investments in Madagascar, resulting in an economic crisis from which the country has yet to fully recover.

Today, education is compulsory from the ages of six to fourteen. Primary school is a five-year program, for students six to eleven. Secondary school runs for seven years, and is divided into junior and senior levels, with graduating points at the conclusion of each. Graduates of junior high school receive a certificate, while those who complete senior high school are awarded the baccalauréat, which is the equivalence of a high school diploma in the United States.

The University of Madagascar was established in 1955 as the Institute for Advanced Studies, assuming its current name in 1961, and currently operates autonomous branches in Antananarivo, Antsiranana, Fianarantsoa, Toamasina, Toliara, and Mahajanga.

Nearly all Madagascar children attend primary school, while just over 35% go on to secondary school, and about 5% enroll in the university or other institutions of higher learning. Girls and boys have equal access to an education.

While the French language was discarded for a short time, its education system currently teaches fluency in French, although Malagasy is also used, as it is the primary language of most of the people of Madagascar. English was once an official language, but was removed as such in 2010.

Among the challenges facing the educational system in Madagascar are a continued inequality in education resources among the country's regions. There are more schools in the country's central highlands than in its coastal regions, for example, and this leads to better opportunities and better representation for those who the advantage of better schools. Although certainly not confined to Madagascar, there is also a disparity in the educational resources available to the poorer sections of society, as compared to the wealthier areas.

Apart from its public school system, there are also private, religious, and international schools in Madagascar. Most, if not all, international schools will admit students from the local population as well as the children of foreign expatriates living or working in Madagascar, although the tuition may be prohibitive. These schools may follow an American curriculum, a British, French, or another curriculum. These schools may also provide internationally accepted accreditation, such as the International Baccalaureate.

Topics related to education, teaching, and learning in Madagascar are appropriate topics for this category. Madagascar school sites and education foundations are examples.



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