Schooling in demand

A child at school in Algeria

In 1962, when Algeria gained its independence, most children did not go to school and the majority of the population was illiterate. With the formation of the Ministry of Education in 1963, the process of setting up a school system began in earnest.

Today, schooling is compulsory from the age of six years. The basic education programme lasts for 10 years and there are no tuition fees.

Enrolment of children at primary level (6-12 years) is high, at around 95%. This means that over 90% of young people (15-24) in Algeria are able to read and write.

However, with a boom in the country’s population – 27% of Algerians are aged 14 or under, compared to 15% across Europe – schools have been stretched to cope with the growing numbers of children. Class sizes can be large and schools in some regions have to offer lessons in shifts.

The school day is quite long, usually 8am to 5pm. With high midday temperatures, there is normally a break in lessons from late morning to mid-afternoon, when teachers and pupils stop for a rest period.

Drop-off at secondary level


Teaching is mainly in Arabic, though local Berber languages are also used (since 1999). French is normally chosen as the second language or English from around the eighth grade. The government is encouraging the use of ICT.

Officially, school attendance is compulsory up to 16 years. But in practice many children leave school at 13 (or earlier). There is still a culture among some that secondary schooling is not vital. Poorer families often rely on their children working from a young age.

For those who go on to attend secondary school – around two-thirds of children – there are three lower and three upper secondary years. In the upper three years, students generally study to pass the baccalauréat, which can include vocational as well as academic subjects. Students with good school results can apply to one of the many universities, schools or institutes of higher education.

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