Education In Ivory Coast, Comoé Capital

Education In Ivory Coast, Comoé Capital

Author : Margaux SMEYERS

Affiliated Organisation : Comoé Capital

Publication Type : Sector Study Report

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Until the 2000’s, Ivory Coast was considered one of the educational cornerstones of West Africa. Nonetheless, insecurity in several of the country’s regions, along with political and social demands, severely affected the country between 2009 and 2011, driving educational quality to deteriorate, and even leading to the closure of a large number of institutions. For example, the average French and mathematics score dropped from 45% in 1996 to 30% in 2009 (World Bank, 2017).

While the situation continues to improve, the country’s overall social indicators remain meager, especially in terms of education, explaining its place as 171st out of 187 countries in terms of human development in 2017.

The average French and mathematics score dropped from 45% in 1996 to 30% in 2009 (World Bank, 2017).

In order to counting as one of the countries having achieved emergence by 2020, the government of Ivory Coast has, since 2012, adopted two successive “National Development Plans” (PND). The first, set up to last five years, covered 2012 to 2016. Following-up on the first one, a second PND was set up for 2016 to 2020, focusing, in particular, on the education sector. The respective goals and action plans are the following (MPD, 2016):

  • All school age children & youth attend schools that provide quality teaching and satisfy national standards.
  • Men and women have equitable access to quality professional training.
  • People know how to read, write and do arithmetic
  • Access to quality higher education strengthened

The efficiency of Ivory Coast’s educational system is still quite weak in spite of the progress that has been made : Ivory Coast only provides 1.6 years of schooling for 1 percentage point of GDP spent, in contrast to an average of 2.7 years for all of the developing countries.

Place as 171st out of 187 countries in terms of human development in 2017

The level of educational life expectancy remains low (7.7 years) compared to an average of 9.7 years in Africa (including the repeated year rate).

Completion rates at both elementary and secondary school levels remain lower than both middle-income countries and African averages. The elementary school completion rate is 63.1%, as opposed to 72.6% in Africa and 92.8% in middle-income countries. The secondary completion rate is 35% in the Ivory Coast while it is 45% on average in Africa and 75% in middle-income countries. Ivory Coast schools lack infrastructure and their students lack textbooks.

Based on the study by the government of Ivory Coast (2016), the degree of unforeseen events in the distribution of public elementary school teachers in the Ivory Coast remains too high, with a 43% rate, as opposed to a rate of 13% in some neighboring countries. These statistics highlight the lack of consideration vis-à-vis the needs of the different schools, as well as the number of teachers already on board relative to student numbers.

The various statistics highlight the very low rate of enrollment at the preschool level, as well as weaknesses at the secondary and higher education levels. In 2015, around 7% was obtained for preschool; 88% for girls and 99% for boys in elementary school; 37% for girls and 51% for boys in secondary school; And finally, 9% for girls and 7% for boys at the higher education level.

Very low rate of enrollment at the preschool level, as well as weaknesses at the secondary and higher education levels

There have been several ministerial changes related to education over recent years. Between 2012 and January 2016, education budgets were principally distributed among three ministries

  • The National Ministry of Education and Technical Education (MENET)
  • The Ministries of Employment, Social Affairs and Vocational Training (MEMEASP)
  • The Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research (MESRS)

Since January 2016, a ministerial reorganization distributed educational competencies over the following ministries:

  • The National Ministry of Education (MEN)
  • The Ministry of Technical Education and Vocational Training (METFP)
  • The Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research (MESRS)

In general, household expenditures on education are the following:

  • Direct expenditures  o Payments in school: registration fees, tuition, (contributions) preschool activities, administrative documents for registering children o Purchases by families: manuals and school notebooks, supplies, uniform, required sports outfits, other garments
  • Indirect expenditures o Payments to the school:other registration fees(i.e.:examinations)o Other expenditures : tutoring, food, cafeterias, boarding, transportation, etc.
  • Other academic expenditures (unspecified)

Tuition Costs On average, a preschool child equals around 82,000 CFA francs annually for a family. Teaching o Overall, around 50% of preschool teachers, whether public, private or community, have the BEPC, 40% have the BAC or above, and 10% do not have anything. Nonetheless, private education statistics are more disappointing, with 23% of teachers no diploma, and only 12% with the BAC or above (MENETFP, 2017).

In terms of gender, 93% of teachers are women and 88 out of 7,045 are volunteers.

Rural/Urban Segmentation oWhile preschool education is still rare and often equated with elites, it is also concentrated in urban environments, with only 21% of children attending preschool (and 31% of the institutions) come from rural areas (MENETFP, 2017).

Cost to households

On average, an elementary school child is equivalent to around 40.000 CFA francs annually for a family. 


The ratio of students to teachers depends on the type of school and is much higher for public education. In fact, even though the average ratio is very high, with a ratio of 42:1, it is 34:1 in community schools, 37:1 in private schools and 43:1 in public schools. By way of comparison, the average ratio for Africa is of 35:1 and that of low-income Countries is 41:1 (UNESCO, 2018).

In terms of qualifications, public school teachers have needed to have at least a baccalaureate ever since 2013.


Regarding grades, the PASEC (2014) study analyzed the grades of students at the beginning and end of their schooling in mathematics and language.

For beginning students, the average scores nationally are 484.1 in languages and 465.9 in mathematics, that is, their grades are lower than those of Burkina Faso, Burundi and Togo in languages, but also lower than those of Senegal and Cameroon in mathematics. Moreover, only 17.3% (languages) and 33.8% (mathematics) of the students achieve the “adequate competencies threshold” as defined by PASEC for admission to elementary school.

At the end of their schooling, the average national scores are 517 in languages and 458 in mathematics, like the average for the countries in the region studied in the study12 with the exception of Senegal in languages, but still lower than Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Togo and Senegal in mathematics. In total, only 48% (languages) and 27% (mathematics) for students reach the “adequate competencies threshold” as defined by PASEC at the end of elementary school.

The principal aspects to analyzed when considering whether to invest in secondary education in Ivory Coast are:

  • State’s share of student funding: State-funded students generally represent a significant share of secondary school income. This provision amounts to investing in an entity where the State is the principle client, with 1 to 2 year lead times. International schools are the only ones that do not admit State assignees, and therefore are not subject to the same provisions (for example, the French lycée or Enko).
  • Collection Issues: Certain schools charge additional tuition to those assigned by the State, even though this practice is prohibited. Client debts need to be analyzed in detail, because, based on what we understand, the tuition supplements of those assigned by the State, as well as the tuition of other students, are rather substantial, and the schools have trouble recovering them. Between this debt, the one for Master’s students, and the State one, school balance sheets show a high level of debt.
  • Educational quality: The analysis of student outcomes, student-instructor ratio and instructor profiles is essential when doing due diligence. The overall level of students is hard to assess in intermediate classes. Regarding the examination level classes (3rd and Term), the analysis is easier (comparing the above mentioned examination outcomes). Teachers are expected to have completed the ENS, and generally teach in both private and public schools.

Given the significant increase in the level of students, higher education lacks both the infrastructure and human resources needed to respond to this growth.

State subsidies to the private sector, in general & technical secondary education

Just as in secondary education, the State grants subsidies to the schools per student admitted to the first cycle (BTS and licence). Amounts of subsidies are set by level:

  • 300,000 CFA francs per student in the service sector for the BTS, up to a limit of three years (in case of repeats);
  • 450,000 CFA francs per student for the licence or technical sectors.

The gap between tuition and the subsidy is financed by the student (even though it is prohibited) .

Several players o Several public players: o Even though there is no official classification, public schools such as the INPHB ( or the ENSEA ( have a solid reputation in terms of quality as well as integrating young people professionally. o A few private players: o The largest private school is the Loko group, with more than 10,000 students, covering almost all the technical and service sectors. The school has several locations in Abidjan and in the country’s interior. Available vocational programs are the BTS (around 400,000 CFAF), the licence (starting at 650.000 CFAF) and the master’s or engineering degree, starting at 1.1 MFCFA). o The historical school is the PIGIER group, which basically does the training for the service sector. The school has been in existence for over 50 years and has a solid alumni network. Tuition is 650.000 CFAF for the BAC + 2 and 1 M CFAF for the licence. The school is affiliated with the French group with the same name. o Schools with a solid reputation for high quality even though there is no official, credible classification:

  • FUPA ( is a private university founded by the university’s instructors. o It expects to create a several hectare campus with student residences.
  • IUGB ( located in Grand-Bassam, partnering with American universities. o Tuition is 1.4 MCFAF.
  • Em Lyon ( has developed a Master’s program in finance in o partnership with the FHB university of Abidjan.

In spite of the significant progress made by Ivory Coast in terms of education, there are considerable gaps in girls’ access to education.

Pregnancies remain a reality for girls in Ivory Coast, mentioned as “a true social problem in the Ivory Coast” (RFI , 2017). In fact, the government study shows that 600 cases of pregnancy were recorded in primary education during the 2014/2015 school year, over 3000 cases in the first cycle of secondary education, and nearly 1000 cases in the second cycle of secondary education.

Violence against children also remains a real issue in Ivory Coast’s education sector. Nowadays, the country remains among the 12 West African countries where physical violence has still not been prohibited in schools, in spite of flyers discouraging it. UNICEF publishes the following statistics for Ivory Coast (2016, quoted in AllAfrica, 2016):

  • Nearly 4/5 students are subject to verbal violence in the school environment;
  • Nearly 2/5 of students are subject to physical violence in the school environment;
  • Nearly one out of three students is the victim of physical humiliations in the school environment;
  • 38% of students, both girls and boys, are victims of sexual harassment in school;
  • Nearly 1/10 students have been subject to sexual touching.

With an annual 2.4% growth rate in its population, where over 40% of the population is under 14, there are considerable opportunities for supporting Ivory Coast in its duty to educate.