Although its education system used not to be free, Benin has now abolished school fees and is carrying out the recommendations of its 2007 Educational Forum. In 1996, the gross primary enrollment rate was 72.5 percent, and the net primary enrollment rate was 59.3 percent. A far greater percentage of boys are enrolled in school than girls: in 1996, the gross primary enrollment rate for boys was 88.4 percent as opposed to 55.7 percent for girls; the net primary enrollment rates were 71.6 percent for boys and 46.2 percent for girls. Primary school attendance rates were unavailable for Benin as of 2001. While enrollment rates indicate a level of commitment to education, they do not always reflect children's participation in school. Because of a rapid increase in the enrollment rate, the student/teacher ratio rose from 36:1 in 1990 to 53:1 in 1997. The overall adult literacy rate is nearly 40%. Only 25% of women in Benin are literate.
By the late 1980s, under Benin's Marxist government, the quality of education was seriously eroded and, by 1989, the education system was in a state of collapse. A key event in the reform of education in Benin was the national Conference on Education (Etats Généraux de l'Education-EGE) held in 1990 which adopted a national policy and strategy to improve education. Beginning in 1991, the government of Benin introduced significant changes within the Beninese education system.
Major advances have been made in education, especially in the areas of access and teaching/learning conditions. The gross enrollment rate has increased from a base of 49.7% in 1990 to 96% in 2004 and girls' enrollment from 36% in 1990 to 84% in 2004. Gender balance and geographic equity have shown significant improvements in gross numbers of girls and children from disadvantaged areas attending primary schools. Nonetheless, major constraints and challenges remain.
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
Education is compulsory for children between ages six and eleven. After spending two to three years in kindergarten, it takes six years for them to complete and take the primary school certificate. Overall it requires seven years to complete both junior and senior high school. At the end of the four first years of junior high school, the students have to take the O-level (Brevet d’Etudes du Premier Cycle: BEPC). Then after three years the students have to take the A level (Baccalauréat: BAC) exam which is the equivalent of the U.S. high school diploma. There are five vocational schools, located in five of the twelve provinces: Atlantique littoral (City of Cotonou), Oueme Plateau (city of Porto-Novo), Zou Colline (city of Bohicon) Borgou (city of Parakou), Mono Couffo, Atakora, Donga and Alibori.
The grading system is from 0 to 20, with 20 being the highest grade.
- Passing grade: 10
- Fairly good grade: 12
- Good grade: 14-15
- Very good grade: 16-17
- Excellent: 18-20
Languages of instruction
French, the official language of Benin, is generally the language of instruction.
Leading public high schools
- High School of Gbegamey
- High School of St Rita
- High School of Dantokpa
- High School of Akpakpa
- Lycee Behanzin
- Lycee Toffa
High School of Application:
- High School of Lokossa
- High School of Houffon
- High School of Mathieu Bouquet (Borgou)
- High School of CEG1 Natitingou (Atakora)
- High School of Djougou (Donga)
The National University of Benin maintains ten branches:
- The Campus of Abomey Calavi
- The Faculty of Economics and Management (FASEG)
- The Faculty of Law and Political Science (FADESP)
- The Faculty of Arts and Social Science (FLASH)
- The Faculty of Science and Technology (FAST)
- The Faculty of Health Science (FSS)
- The University of Parakou (UNIPAR)
- The School of Applied Economics and Management (ENEAM)
- The National School of Administration and Prosecutor Training (ENAM)
- The Poly Technical School of Abomey Calavi (EPAC)
- The Teachers’ Training School of Porto-Novo (ENS)
- The Institute of Mathematics and Physics (IMSP)
- The Faculty Agricultural Science (FSA).
Each branch is headed by a university president.
Some private higher institutions are also accredited by the Ministry of National Education. Altogether 94 higher institutions are accredited.
Grading system for thesis defense
- Passing: 10-12
- Fairly good grade: 12
- Good grade: 14- 15
- Very good grade: 16- 17
- Excellent grade: 18-20
Leading public and private schools
- "Benin" Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor (2001) Bureau of International Labor Affairs, U.S. Department of Labor (2002, This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.)
- "Benin | Unesco" Benin | United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
- Education: Programs. USAID Benin. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
- THE EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM OF BENIN REPUBLIC. Embassy of the United States, Cotonou, Benin. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
- Profile of higher education in Benin from Boston College
- Colonial state and education in Benin Division, 1897 – 1959
- Information communication technology in Benin from infoDev
- Benin Education Fund (BEF) Provides educational support and scholarships.