Education, Universities, Schools
Official education systems in Algeria were begun by French colonists who forced school-going Algerian children to learn the European languages that their own children where familiar with. Schools were not widespread and only a small minority was able to receive this education. However, things changed dramatically when Algeria gained independence. Schooling systems underwent a major reform and more schools were built and made accessible to the general population. As is the case with any developing nation, there is always room for improvement and the relevant authorities continue to focus on developing education in Algeria.
According to a census taken in 2003, only 70 percent of the population was literate. Whilst not bad compared to some other African countries, this still falls far below international standards. Statistics revealed that more males are literate than females. There is a startling 20% difference between the two genders despite the widespread promotion of gender equality. The largest challenge currently faced by the education department is that of actually keeping school-age children in school. While Algerian law states that all children aged 6-15 must attend school, there is still a lack of enrollment of children by parents. Most children are enrolled in primary school, but only about half of these are again enrolled in secondary school. While schools are free, accessibility may prove to be a challenge for some – especially for those living in rural areas. Sometimes, but not always, there may also not be enough emphasis on the importance of completing secondary education within the family unit.
Algeria has a good number of tertiary education facilities. These include ten universities, seven university centers and a number of technical colleges. Initially the primary language for instruction at these institutions was Arabic, but Berber has been permitted since 2003. Those that take their schooling seriously and who graduate from university often go on to get better jobs and live better lives than their contemporaries, highlighting the importance of education.